Schieffer Spins: Congress's 'Worse Than Car Thieves' Poll Numbers Good For Obama

On Friday's Early Show, CBS's Bob Schieffer wildly spun Congress's 12% job approval as good news for President Obama, despite his own low poll numbers: "My heavens! He's 20 points ahead of the members of Congress....I mean, I think that probably some car thieves have a higher approval rating." But in 2010, when Democrats led Congress, The Early Show ignored a poll which showed low numbers for Nancy Pelosi.

The morning program led its 7 am Eastern hour with the ultra-low poll numbers for the Republican-led Congress. Anchor Erica Hill noted that "President Obama's job approval rating is reaching all-time low, but he is still miles ahead of Congress, when you look at the numbers. A CBS News/New York Times poll out just this morning shows only 12% of Americans say Congress is doing a good job. That is the worst showing in the history of our polling."

Hill then turned to Schieffer and asked, "Bob, we've been watching these numbers go down with you all year long- incredible to see it get this low. Were you surprised by that 12%?" The seasoned CBS personality started his spin machine in reply:

Bob Schieffer, CBS News Anchor | NewsBusters.orgSCHIEFFER: Well, I've never heard of anything like this. I mean, this is just extraordinary. I mean, the folks over at the White House have, you know, been really gloom and doom over there about how the President's approval rating- I think in the latest Gallup poll- is down to 39%. But my heavens! He's 20 points ahead of the members of Congress. (laughs) Only 12% approval rating? I've never heard of anything. I mean, I think that probably some car thieves have a higher approval rating than 12% in their local community....This has got to be, Erica, a shot across the bow for every elected official. I mean, people are really fed up, and this just underlines it.

Back in March 2010, just before the Democratic-controlled Congress passed ObamaCare and the President signed it, a CBS News poll found that "those who do have an opinion of the Democratic Congressional leaders don't seem to have a very good one: Pelosi and [Harry] Reid are viewed unfavorably by roughly three times as many people as they are viewed favorably."

However, The Early Show didn't even mention this finding from their own poll, and decided to play up the rise in President Obama's approval rating in the same poll during the lead hour of the March 24 broadcast. Then-anchor Harry Smith trumpeted the boost: "A new CBS News poll shows President Obama gets a bump from health care reform, but the public still remains skeptical. We'll look at the numbers."

Near the end of the segment, Hill turned to the upcoming 2012 presidential race and asked her colleague for his take. In reply, the CBS journalist emphasized, "One thing we should underline: it is very, very early. It is a long way from Election Day of 2012."

The full transcript of the segment from Friday's Early Show:

ERICA HILL: We begin this morning with a new indication of just how frustrated voters are with Washington. President Obama's job approval rating is reaching all-time low, but he is still miles ahead of Congress, when you look at the numbers. A CBS News/New York Times poll out just this morning shows only 12% of Americans say Congress is doing a good job. That is the worst showing in the history of our polling.

[CBS News Graphic: "CBS News/New York Times Poll: Congress Job Rating: Disapprove, 80%; Approve, 12%; Margin Of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

Joining us now, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of 'Face the Nation,' Bob Schieffer. Bob, we've been watching these numbers go down with you all year long- incredible to see it get this low. Were you surprised by that 12%?

[CBS News Graphic: "Political Pressure: CBS News Poll: Record Low 12% Approval Rating For Congress"]

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I've never heard of anything like this. I mean, this is just extraordinary. I mean, the folks over at the White House have, you know, been really gloom and doom over there about how the President's approval rating- I think in the latest Gallup poll- is down to 39%. But my heavens! He's 20 points ahead of the members of Congress. (laughs) Only 12% approval rating? I've never heard of anything. I mean, I think that probably some car thieves have a higher approval rating than 12% in their local community-

HILL: (laughs) Yeah-

SCHIEFFER: This has got to be, Erica, a shot across the bow for every elected official. I mean, people are really fed up, and this just underlines it-

HILL: They are, but it seems like we said that at about 17% earlier this year. So you wonder when that wake-up call will finally come through. I want to break it down by party here, because the polling also asked respondents which party they approved of. And so, taking a look at this, the disapproval and the approval numbers you see there, the Democrats actually have a slight edge there over Republicans when it comes to the approval numbers. Does that surprise you at all?

[CBS News Graphic: "CBS News/New York Times Poll: Job Rating Of The Parties In Congress: Disapprove: Republicans, 72%; Democrats, 63%; Approve: Republicans 19%, Democrats, 28%; Margin Of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

SCHIEFFER: Really, no. I mean- and I'm not sure there's that much difference. There must be some sort of margin of error there. People are just fed up with all of them, and that's what this underlines. I mean, Erica, there was one number that I saw, that only six percent- six percent, think that members of Congress deserve re-election. I mean, when you're in that kind of territory, I mean, I've never heard of a poll that had a minus in it, but, I mean, we may go below zero here.

[CBS News Graphic: "CBS News/New York Times Poll: Does Congress Deserve Re-election? No: Most Members, 84%; Own Representative, 57%; Yes: 6%; Own Representative, 33%; Margin Of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]


HILL: (laughs) We were actually joking about- in the newsroom this morning that may be what we see next, some sort of a minus figure. Taking a look forward then, we've been obviously focusing so much on campaign 2012 that gets into full swing here. Looking at some of the front-runners among the Republicans: how do you think they would fare, especially given what we've seen in terms of a response from the American people in this latest poll?

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For 2012: Romney Tacks To The Right"]

SCHIEFFER: Well, one thing we should underline: it is very, very early. It is a long way from Election Day of 2012. But what you're seeing now in the Republican Party- I mean, Republicans have been very dissatisfied with their own field, and I think that was reflected by sort of the meteoric rise of Rick Perry when he finally got into the race. I mean, here, you had basically Mitt Romney, who was the front-runner for about two years now, and then, Perry announces and, suddenly, he gets 10 points or 15 points ahead of Mitt Romney. And then, we saw in the most recent debate, Rick Perry finding out what it's like to be the front-runner. I mean, they cut on him pretty good. The Republican race is far from set. I guess you have to say right now that Perry and Romney are the front-runners, but, you know, Michele Bachmann is still in there, and the way that race is going, I think, frankly, anything could happen there.

HILL: Well, it will keep interesting, at least, for the next few months. Bob Schieffer in Washington this morning- Bob, thanks.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center