GMA Downplays Positive Bush Polls, Highlights Negative Ratings

As one might have suspected, ABC's Good Morning America did not grant nearly the same amount of coverage to President Bush's improving poll numbers in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, as they did to his declining ratings over a month ago when the program unfavorably compared Bush's low numbers to LBJ's.

The new ABC poll, which shows Bush's approval rating rising eight points to 47 percent, was hidden in a two-sentence story read by news anchor Robin Roberts shortly before 7:15 this morning. In contrast, an earlier ABC News poll showing Bush's approval rating down to 39 percent merited a full report from national correspondent Claire Shipman on November 4th. In that report, Shipman declared that while the 39 percent rating was "grim," the noteworthy story from the poll was "the White House hemorrhaging on those issues of trust and credibility." In the November 2nd poll, Shipman reported that "just 40 percent call President Bush honest and trustworthy," which she deemed "extremely bad news." Did GMA note this morning that Bush's ratings on the issues of trust and credibility had rebounded to 49 percent? Of course not.

The brief mention of the latest ABC News poll numbers this morning, as read by Robin Roberts: "The President's latest efforts to shore up support for the war in Iraq may be working. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Mr. Bush's approval rating at 47 percent, the highest in six months."

As Brent Baker recounted in a November 8th CyberAlert, Shipman had compared Bush's low approval ratings with Lyndon Johnson's during Vietnam. A full transcript of the November 4th story follows.

Diane Sawyer: "Some headlines are setting off a fire alarm in Washington this morning. Because, as we said, there is a new ABC News/Washington Post poll that has the President with his worst overall job approval rating ever--60 percent disapproving, which is the highest disapproval rate for any president since the first President Bush was voted out of office. But, here is something brand new. An issue the President thought he could always count on is starting to crack and senior national correspondent Claire Shipman is in Washington with that, Claire."

Claire Shipman: "Diane, a 39 percent approval rating is grim, but the real headline from this new poll is that the White House is hemorrhaging on those issues of trust and credibility. And for a White House, as you mention, that made its name on the issue of trust, it's coming back to haunt them in a big way. The opinion of his presidency is moving from bad to worse. His credentials for honesty, morals and leadership under broad fire. For the first time less than half of those polled, just 40 percent, call President Bush honest and trustworthy. Extremely bad news for a man who fought his way into the White House on the very issue of trust."

President George W. Bush, 2000 convention: "If you give me your trust, I will honor it."

David Frum: "This is an administration that is embattled and Americans are worried and unhappy and they express that by casting doubt about, on almost everything the administration does."

Shipman: "And this mean season is trickling down, leaving many inside the White House feeling bruised and vulnerable."

David Gregory: "You were wrong, weren't you?"

Scott McClellan: "Again, David-"

Shipman: "Like Press Secretary Scott McClellan who was assured by Rove and Libby they were not involved in the leak case and who then repeated those assurances to the press."

Terry Moran: "Your credibility has been damaged by this."

Shipman: "The poll points to a number of reasons for the damaging credibility slide. The CIA leak case involving the President's top men, 7 in 10 Americans call it serious. Iraq, nearly three years in and 2,000 dead. Skepticism reigns. Fifty-five percent of Americans think President Bush misled the public. Katrina, only a minority of Americans now see President Bush as a strong leader. Gas prices, his disapproval on the economy is the worst since his father's. But the best overall comparison may be between two wartime Presidents. President Bush's drop in approval ratings mirrors none so closely as Lyndon Johnson's as he became further enmeshed in Vietnam. And we're hearing something unusual these days from this normally tight lipped, loyal White House. The sound of grumbling. Some of it about the role of Karl Rove, the President's top strategist, whether his departure might in fact help staunch this devestating loss of trust."