AP Buries Its Own 37 Percent Approval Number for Obama; When It Found 37 Percent Low for Bush, NBC Led With It

The big talk in conservative radio on Thursday is Barack Obama’s 37 percent approval rating in the latest AP poll. Hosts are also making fun of how AP announced this number: buried in paragraph eight of a story headlined “Poll: No Heroes In Shutdown, GOP Gets Most Blame.”

Guess what? Brent Baker reported when an AP poll found President Bush's approval rating hit a new low of 37 percent on March 10, 2006, NBC's Brian Williams led the newscast with it. When an NBC News poll found the same number on March 15, Williams led the program with it again, turning to Tim Russert to say, "let's start with that all-important benchmark for presidents, the approval rating." Now, the networks are trying to avoid this Obama number.


On MSNBC Thursday, Joe Scarborough said AP found Obama was in the “high thirties” and it “appears to be an outlier.” On Wednesday night, Ed "Big Edit" Schultz told “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe only that AP found that the approval number for Congress was “now down to five percent, in case you missed that most recent poll!” 

In the fourth paragraph, AP's Calvin Woodward and Jen Agiesta reported “Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility.” The eighth paragraph with Obama’s 37 percent  also highlighted the “ghastly” approval rating of Congress:

Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it. Congress is scraping rock bottom, with a ghastly approval rating of 5 percent.

It appears the last AP-GfK poll result the wire service reported came in mid-April. That story’s headline was more direct: “Poll: Trust in government, Obama approval slip.” Obama’s approval had fallen to 50 percent (and 47 percent disapproval). It was down from a 54-42 split in January 2013.

The story began: “President Barack Obama's re-election glow is gone. Congress' reputation remains dismal. And only about one in five Americans say they trust the government to do what's right most of the time, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds.” The actual 50-percent number also came in paragraph eight.

More: How the networks in 2006 picked the lowest Bush approval rating, not the average

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis