New York Times Lamely Hypes Obama Recovery: 'Rebound In His Approval Ratings' -- to 42 Percent?

The New York Times is including all the Happy Talk That’s Fit to Print. Their latest poll came with the headline “Obama Sees a Rebound In His Approval Rating.” One might think it’s getting close to 50 percent.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Allison Kopicki wrote, “President Obama’s approval ratings, which hit his all-time low last month, have returned to where they were before the rollout of the health care law’s enrollment process.” Talk about your faint praise: Obama’s back up to 42 percent, compared to 43 percent in September....where it was right before the 2010 midterm elections.

Stolberg and Kopicki did admit in their lead paragraph that “Americans still lack confidence in the White House’s management of the Affordable Care Act, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.” But other pundits have suggested the Times poll showed the White House “stopped the bleeding.” This was their “bleeding stopped” passage:

According to the poll, 42 percent of Americans now approve of Mr. Obama’s overall performance, and 50 percent disapprove. That is not exactly good news for the president, but is better than his numbers in mid-November, after he admitted he had fumbled the rollout of the health care law’s website. Then, just 37 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved in a CBS News poll.

The findings suggest that for Mr. Obama, the political fallout from the website’s start-up might be over. The White House says the website, HealthCare.gov, is now functioning smoothly for most users.

They also spun for Obama by locating voters who don’t want to put all the blame for the Obamacare fiasco on the president:

Americans seem to be giving Mr. Obama a pass for the website’s technical problems after it opened to the public on Oct. 1, according to follow-up interviews. Both Democrats and Republicans interviewed did fault Mr. Obama for what they viewed as flawed management decisions.

“I don’t really put all the blame on the president,” said Pete Brown, 56, a Republican from Edelstein, Ill., who said he disagreed with the health law’s concept. “I mean, Obama isn’t in the day-to-day activities. But he didn’t put the right leadership overseeing it to get it into place. If it was going to be done, then it should have been done well.”

Lise Colgan, 60, a Democrat from Cottage Grove, Ore., who approves of the health law, agreed. “I think the president could have been a little more hands-on with the botched rollout,” she said, “but I don’t blame him for technology failures.”


The law itself remains unpopular; half of the respondents disapproved of the Affordable Care Act, while 39 percent approved, the poll found. But Americans seem to view the law more favorably now than a month ago, when 61 percent disapproved and just 31 percent approved.

Several independent voters predicted in interviews that the law would become more popular as more Americans gained benefits through the law.

“It’s a rough start, but anything our government has ever launched has never started out all that well,” said Ed Stanutz, 24, an independent from Monroeville, Pa., who recently graduated from college and is looking for work. “I think once it clears out and starts to work fine, people will begin to accept it more.

Another independent, Wayne Gottschalk, 68, who works for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Topeka, Kan., said, “I think more people will become familiar with it, and it will be a godsend to a lot of people, and it won’t be an issue within 18 months.”

That sounds exactly like an echo of the Times staff. But isn't this exactly what Obama backers said in 2010? "Wait until the benefits kick in, then it will be popular."

In the penultimate paragraph, the Times notices that about half of Americans still think the president is honest and trustworthy, down from 2012 but unchanged from three weeks ago, and only four in ten say Obama shares their priorities for America, also unchanged from three weeks ago.

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