Nobody would argue that President Bush is overly popular at the moment. The media, however, seem determined to keep it that way. The April 28 edition of Today made this point extremely clear. Katie Couric opened the NBC program with this tease of a Brian Williams presidential interview:
Couric: "President Bush on those skyrocketing gas prices, his plummeting poll numbers and whether New Orleans is ready for hurricane season."
At 7:03AM EDT, Matt Lauer introduced the Williams interview this way:
Lauer: "Before we get to all that, let's talk about President Bush on those rising gas prices, the future of FEMA and his dismal poll numbers."
And the sneaky use of adjectives wasn’t the only tactic that Today employed.
Today's starters-- Media: Reacting to Muhammed cartoon controversy, student newspaper prints offensive Jesus toons, nothing
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Hold on to your seats, but there’s a new CNN poll out analyzing Sen. Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected president in 2008. What a shock, huh? During Thursday’s “The Situation Room,” host Wolf Blitzer and political analyst William Schneider were having a hard time hiding their glee concerning these poll results as well as a possible return to “the good times under the Bill Clinton era” (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). In fact, the viewer got a glimpse of how thrilled both of these supposedly impartial reporters were as soon as the segment began.
Blitzer introduced Schneider thusly: “Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, who is already smiling. He hasn't even started to tell us about the results of this poll -- Bill.”
Isn’t that special? The results are so heartening to Schneider that, as you can see from the attached picture, he’s smiling ear to ear. Then, after discussing the plusses and minuses of Hillary using or not using her maiden name of Rodham – a question that clearly must be keeping most Americans up at night – Schneider took the opportunity to contrast President Bush’s current poll numbers to former President Clinton’s:
Leading with Karl Rove's grand jury session, on Wednesday's CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer painted CBS's coverage through a set of facts forwarded by Bush enemies as he justified his news judgment, “It is the story that is keeping Washington on edge: Who outed one of the CIA's secret agents whose husband happened to be a critic of the President and his war policy?” Jim Axelrod framed his story around how Rove being “called back in front of the grand jury yet again makes it crystal clear” that he's “still very much under a cloud of suspicion.” Axelrod seemed almost sorry for the Bush team as he concluded: "The President's poll numbers are at an all-time low, gas prices are through the roof, he's got an unpopular war and a divisive immigration debate to handle, and his chief political advisor is under this cloud. It just couldn't come at a worse time for the President.” Then, as if the media's news judgment has nothing to do with it, Schieffer observed: "I would agree that this White House just can't seem to talk about what it wants to talk about. I think today probably what they wanted to talk about was the naming of a new Press Secretary."
On the NBC Nightly News, which also led with Rove, anchor Brian Williams similarly marveled at how “the White House today was hoping for favorable coverage of one story in particular: The naming of the President's new Press Secretary, Tony Snow. And it was the story of the day from the White House right up until Karl Rove became the story.” Williams also highlighted “a new record the President may not be so proud of," an "all-time low" approval number for Bush in “our polling.” But the 36 percent approval in NBC's new poll is three points higher than a Fox News poll last week and four points above what CNN found this week. (Transcripts follow.)
This may be a little dated, but Jim Geraghty has absolutely captured something that conservatives need to remember as they listen to liberal-media outlets forecasting doom daily for the GOP in the midterms. Remember how every week in 2004 seemed like a bad week for Bush, save the week President Reagan died and the week of the GOP convention? Every week, the media suggested everything was another problem for Bush, and Kerry's weaknesses were ignored, or downplayed, or wiggled around, or were a vicious, lying, Rove-inspired attack? Geraghty reminds us not to read the media's wishful-thinking tea leaves into despair:
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann plugged the Rolling Stone cover story by historian Sean Wilentz which argued that George W. Bush may be the worst President ever, citing the opinions of over 400 historians. As he introduced his interview with Wilentz, Olbermann sympathetically referred to the recently fired CIA employee who leaked classified information on the agency's use of secret prisons in Europe in the War on Terrorism, calling her a "whistleblower," and asked the question: "President Bush, whose administration is now firing, perhaps prosecuting whistleblowers, is he simply the worst?"
While introducing the segment, Olbermann listed several of Wilentz's attacks against Bush without challenging their validity, including accusations of "fabricated evidence" of WMD, a "retro fiscal policy" of "massive tax cuts" for the wealthy that "racked up monstrous deficits," and a criticism citing an unnamed Republican strategist who claimed that the Republican Party is "the first religious party in U.S. history." Olbermann, who perennially makes comparisons between George Orwell's novel 1984 and the Bush administration, managed to work in yet another reference to Orwell as he ended the interview mocking the administration's use of the term "pre-9/11 thinking," charging that Bush would accuse Wilentz and the other historians of being "guilty of pre-9/11 thinking, as George Orwell might have said." (Transcript follows)
When Ellen Ratner went a couple weeks without any major liberal loopiness, one wondered whether perhaps Jim Pinkerton was having a salubrious effect on her. But things got back to normal this morning when Ratner let Pinkerton goad her into boasting that she supports "open immigration."
The opening topic on today's 'Long & the Short of It' segment on Fox & Friends Weekend dealt with Howard Dean's recent claim that job # 1 in his view is tougher border security.
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann highlighted a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll which shows President Bush's approval rating "plummeting even further" and, as the Countdown host observed, "for the first time in the Bush presidency," the President's approval rating among Republicans has fallen below 70 percent. This straight citing of Fox News contrasts with Olbermann's regular attacks on FNC with nearly every mention of the network on his show. As reported by NewsBusters, Olbermann had just one day earlier mocked the journalistic integrity of FNC's Tony Snow and the network's overall truthfulness after word that Snow was being considered to replace White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
Harry Smith was at it again on CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning. He had two segments of note today. In the first notable segment, during the 7:00 half hour, he interviewed former Bush Administration aide Mary Matalin about the staff shakeups at the White House. And in the 8:30 half hour, he interviewed Jane Fonda about her memoirs, My Life So Far, which are being released in paperback.
In his interview with Mary Matalin, Smith wasted no time in getting to the bias. His first question to her was:
"What does it mean to the Republican faithful, these changes? What does it mean to these people who want to see the President succeed?"
The bad news keeps coming for the Bush administration, at least that’s what we were told on PBS’s "Washington Week." For those not familiar with the program, it is moderated by Gwen Ifill, and is a roundtable discussion of reporters, each reporter taking a turn focusing on a political topic while the others ask them questions.
This week, one of the guests was Doyle McManus from the Los Angeles Times who discussed President Bush’s low approval ratings. Ms. Ifill introduced the topic:
"But if Donald Rumsfeld is having some credibility problems with the senior military, it pales in comparison to the credibility problems President Bush appears to be having with the American people. A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll shows more than twice as many people strongly disapprove of the president's performance as strongly approve."
On April 10, left-wing organizations held a massive rally in Washington and other cities, demanding rights (and taxpayer benefits) for illegal aliens, and the liberal media couldn’t have been more excited. The networks had multiple stories, going from city to city, and breathless phrase to breathless phrase. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer played the worn cliche card: “Not since the protests of the Vietnam era has there been anything quite like it.” Bet ten bucks that CBS has said that about just about every large liberal protest they’ve covered. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, CBS also used on-screen graphics with earth-shaking metaphors like “Awakening Giant” to describe the protesters.
Now this is something you don’t see every day: Media outlet does an Internet poll about a movie star, and then claims that friends of the star intentionally skewed the results of the poll to make the star look good.
As amazing as it might seem, this is exactly what representatives of Parade magazine – yeah, that thing that’s stuck in your Sunday papers along with all the advertisements and coupons you typically throw in the gargage without reading – are claiming according to a New York Post piece Tuesday (hat tip to HuffnPuff). It appears Parade recently ran an online poll asking whether Cruise was to blame for his failing public image or the media, and the results displeased the media outlet doing the questioning: “A shocking 84 percent of respondents blamed the press.”
As you can imagine, Parade being a member of said press didn’t like the poll’s outcome. So, it began investigating how the answers could have been different from what they wanted…er, expected. According to a Parade spokesperson:
On the politics beat in Wednesday's Washington Post: first, don't ever let them tell you that liberal reporters don't want to be stenographers to power. They don't mind writing news stories that read like a press release...if they're about Hillary Clinton. Political reporter Dan Balz writes up the junior senator from New York's speech on the economy in Chicago without a single critic, just Mayor Richard Daley welcoming the hometown girl "whatever office you are in." Hillary's speech had shades of Old-Style Liberalism in it: "America did not build the greatest economy in the world because we had rich people," she said, "We built the greatest economy in the world because we built the American middle class." She also insisted tax cuts were not "the cure-all for everything that ails the American economy." Balz couldn't note she tends to hate tax cuts...just like liberal reporters.
On a light news day, why not run a generic piece on President Bush's low poll numbers and his assertedly bleak prospects for reviving them? That was apparently the thinking at the Today show this morning.
Today themed the segment "Can Bush Save Presidency?", and NBC White House reporter Kelly O'Donnell seemed to answer the question in the negative, kicking things off with this gloomy assessment:
"For President Bush, low poll numbers have not just been a dip or temporary rough patch but appear now to be a sustained pattern that is different than his predecessors of both parties who went through their own tough times." She continued: "His . . presidency appears to have a chronic case of the below-40 percent blues."
After David Gergen was shown suggesting that "presidents have sometimes broken out of slumps when they've had big, bold initiatives and unexpected victories - that often shake things up" O'Donnell reappeared to dump cold water on the notion that W could have any such luck:
"Looking back, some second-term presidents have been able to rebound. President Reagan's approval fell to 34 percent with the arms-for-hostages scandal. Pres. Clinton hit 41 percent around impeachment. But both bounced back up to the 60s as they left office. Analysts say the prospects for Mr. Bush are not as good because of the weight of ongoing events: Iraq, gas prices, the CIA leak case and hurricane response."
Gergen popped back up to pessimistically proclaim: "After a while those negative feelings really do congeal, they crystallize, they become firm and then it's very hard to break out."
O'Donnell: "political observers claim big speeches and staff changes won't turn things around and suggest the president may have to wait to seize on any good news."
Commentator Stu Rothenberg then observed: "If there is something he can brag about he needs to quickly then be able to go to the American public and make his case and drive home the point. But for now he simply doesn't have much ammunition at his disposal."
Count on Today and its MSM cohorts to do their best to keep things that way.
A March 29 article published by the Free Market Project addressed the recent full-court press by the media to advance the concept that global warming is an imminent threat to our planet. From television reports, to lead articles at major magazines, March was a month filled with madness not just on the basketball court.
Yet, a recent Gallup poll reported by Editor & Publisher indicated that Americans aren’t buying into the insanity: “Contrary to what one might expect, Gallup found that while public concern is higher than in 2004, it is ‘no higher than it has been at several points in the past.’ In fact, Americans are more worried about water pollution, air pollution, and toxic waste than global warming.”
Do you mean that Americans are starting to ignore media propaganda? It appears so:
You could see this one coming a mile away. As soon as Matt Lauer announced that Today was inaugurating a series called 'One Nation Under God' on the role religion plays in our country, and that the first episode would focus on President Bush, you knew we were in for a bumpy ride.
The series plays off a new book, 'American Gospel', by Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham. In his set-up [and I do mean set-up] piece, David Gregory claimed that "the Bush era has created not just a political but a religious divide."
Continued Gregory: "Critics have accused the president of using religion to close himself off from opposing points of view." Oh, I don't know, David. He seems to hear you pretty loud and clear.
The TV Newser at Media Bistro reported earlier today (hat tip to Drudge) that the Gallup organization is dropping CNN as a partner citing declining viewer rates as the reason.
According to TV Newser:
“In a memo dated Wednesday, March 15, CEO Jim Clifton wrote: ‘We have chosen not to renew our contract with CNN. We have had a great relationship with CNN, but it is not the right alignment for our future.’
"'CNN has far fewer viewers than it did in the past, and we feel that our brand was getting lost and diluted,' Clifton continued. '...We have only about 200,000 viewers during our CNN segments.'"
Apparently, CNN is disputing this, saying that Gallup’s decision had nothing to do with the network’s declining ratings. However, Drudge has gotten an exclusive copy of the actual memo from Clifton. Here is another one of the reasons Clifton listed in his memo for this decision:
A day after leading with how a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put President Bush's approval at a low 37 percent (see this NewsBusters item), Thursday's NBC Nightly News again emphasized the negative for Bush and ignored how its own survey found public support for Bush policies which the media have derided, such as majority support for the NSA wiretapping program, the Patriot Act and making Bush's tax cuts permanent. From the White House, David Gregory asserted that "they're clearly shaken, as you might understand, politically, by the President's eroding support in the country." Gregory suggested that "at his lowest level yet in the polls, the President is left to wonder: Which way is up? Iraq, says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, has enveloped the Bush presidency." Ironically, Gregory relayed how "Republican leaders have said they're worried that the President's strengths, like tax cuts or tough anti-terror measures, have been overlooked." Indeed they have been by Gregory and NBC News. While Tim Russert on Wednesday night gave a sentence to how "voters still say they prefer Republicans to manage the war in Iraq and to deal with homeland security," like with the terrorist surveillance issue, neither NBC Nightly News nor Today have yet to mention how 56 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "making the tax cuts of the past few years permanent." (Transcript follows.)
You'd think that of all days, they'd be believers over at Today this morning. After all, they were blessed with presidential poll numbers for which they were surely praying. Numbers so low that Matt Lauer, Tim Russert et. al could spend an extended first segment reveling in them.
Ironically, in sowing some GOP dissent, Lauer even used the language of religion, suggesting the low numbers were "a blessing in disguise" for congressional Republicans because "they can look and say I don't have a popular president here, I can turn my back on that president." Remind Frist and Hastert not to invite you to the next GOP Unity Rally, Matt.
Without their own poll with which to batter President Bush, last Friday the NBC Nightly News led with how “the latest Associated Press poll has the President's job approval at 37 percent” as anchor Brian Williams pointed how “that matches President Clinton at the lowest point in his presidency.” (NewsBusters item with details.) But NBC caught up Wednesday night with the other networks, and though its new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found the exact same 37 percent presidential approval rating -- so no fresh news -- Williams nonetheless led with the poll number. Bringing aboard Tim Russert, Williams prompted him: “Tim, let's start with that all-important benchmark for Presidents, the approval rating." Russert outlined: "It is not good news for President Bush, Brian. Approve: 37 percent. Disapprove of his job: 58 percent. And look at this Brian, 'direction of the country.' Only one in four [26 percent] Americans say the country is in the right direction; wrong track, 62 percent.”
Russert proceeded to highlight how “Democrats will take great joy in” the finding that 50 percent want Democrats to control Congress, “a 13 point bulge” over the 37 percent who prefer Republicans. “Analysts, of both political parties,” Russert stressed, “say with that kind of number if the election was held today they [Democrats] could re-capture the House and Senate.” But, Russert noted, “inside the poll, voters still say they prefer Republicans to manage the war in Iraq and to deal with homeland security.” (Transcript follows.)
CBS’s "The Early Show" continued with its practice of bringing in left leaning analysts to explain why things are going so horrendously for President Bush and his Administration. This morning’s guest was Craig Crawford from "Congressional Quarterly."
"Early Show" co-host Harry Smith interviewed Crawford, and once again made a bit of a snafu. He misquoted remarks from Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis on Saturday.
Harry Smith: "So interesting. We heard a couple of sound bytes from this big Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis. Even heard Sam Brownback say I'm a Ronald Reagan Democrat, I'm not a George Bush Democrat."
If you put stock in the actual results of the Memphis GOP straw poll, you've got things . . . Oz backwards. At least, that's Chris Matthews' view.
In Dorothy's adventure, the Wizard cautioned us to "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." But this morning, Chris Matthews told us that the way to understand what happened in Memphis was to do just that - look behind the curtain at the Republican heavy-hitters lining up behind John McCain.
Interviewed by Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show, Matthews claimed:
"The big thing for McCain is the strength he showed not in the straw vote [where he finished at the bottom of the pack] but among powerful people. [Haley] Barbour, Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott and [J.C.] Watts all talked up McCain. I think McCain is building up strength."
Being an early-to-bed type, I taped SNL overnight and was playing it this morning when Good Morning America's Sunday show came on. Watching co-host Kate Snow's performance, I was tempted to double-check to make sure I hadn't inadvertently hit the VCR button in the midst of a parody of vacuous blonde MSMer.
The screen capture here is revealing. When it comes to posing prettily, Snow's a peppy pro. But when it came to substance, she revealed not merely a tired MSM bias, but a lack of preparation and perhaps an even more inherent flaw.
For starters, consider Snow's choice of sources. She began by citing the NY Times, and had as her expert guest John Dickerson of the left-leaning online magazine Slate.
Tonight's Hardball post-mortem special on the just-concluded Memphis straw poll of GOP presidential hopefuls was a treasure trove for political junkies.
One obvious conclusion: it was good night for Mitt Romney. As a northerner, someone from Massachusetts and a Mormon at that, finishing second in the South was a notable accomplishment.
But Chuck Todd of the Hotline suggested another headline:
"The biggest thing: we'll look back at this conference by saying this is when we found out that Haley became McCain's southern sherpa. He has made McCain bona fide. I think a Haley-McCain coupling from this weekend sends gigantic shock waves to Republicans."
Ellen Ratner doesn't just like John McCain. She doesn't even just love him. Nope. Ellen lov-v-v-v-v-e-s the person that FCC rules require us to describe as "the maverick senator from Arizona."
But the question arises: just how influential will Ellen's adoration be for Republicans choosing their 2008 presidential candidate? Can we imagine they will not be particularly swayed by the whims of a woman who openly rooted for the war in Iraq to go badly so as to damage President Bush politically?
Ratner boarded Navy man McCain's love boat in the course of this morning's 'Long and the Short of It' segment on Fox & Friends Weekend, in which the diminutive Ratner regularly squares off with lanky conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton. The topic was the GOP 'cattle call' currently occuring in Memphis, at which attendees are hearing from several of the 2008 Republican hopefuls and will participate in a straw vote.
In the last couple of weeks, a CBS News poll found approval for President Bush at “an all-time low of 34 percent” and an ABC News/Washington Post survey pegged Bush's approval at “a new career low” of 41 percent. Without a presidential approval poll of its own with which to batter Bush, anchor Brian Williams led Friday's NBC Nightly News with how “the latest Associated Press poll has the President's job approval at 37 percent. For some context here, that matches President Clinton at the lowest point in his presidency.”
A week and a half ago, on the February 27 CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer trumpeted how “a CBS News poll out tonight shows the President's job approval rating has fallen seven points since the hurricane to an all-time low of 34 percent.” A week and a day later, on Tuesday of this week (March 7), on ABC's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts asserted: "President Bush's job approval rating has sunk to a new career low. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the President's overall performance rating now stands at 41 percent.” (Transcript follows of how Williams opened Friday's NBC Nightly News.)
Joe Scarborough had some tough stuff for both parties today. He revealed that Republicans believe they will lose the House of Representatives in 2006. But no thanks to the Dems, whose failure to exploit the political opportunity he ascribed to their being "stupid."
Scarborough's appearance with Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show capped a long segment themed "Has Bush Lost His Clout?" The answer was a resounding 'yes' in NBC's mind.
Today outlined a litany of presidential woe:
Being forced to accept changes to the Patriot Act to win its approval.
Action by Republicans in Congress to block the UAE ports deal.
Erosion of the president's "once ardent base."
Possibly being "forced to bend" on NSA surveillance.
A gloomy forecast for Iraq.
Dismal poll ratings.
Speaking of polls, NBC White House reporter Kelly O'Donnell only featured the results of polls showing Pres. Bush's approval ratings at or below 40%, ignoring major polls such as this one by the Washington Post/ABC that has the president above 40%.
If you've already seen Brent Baker and Rich Noyes summarize how ABC downplayed their own Bush approval rating number after reporting CBS's lower number the week before, there's one more angle. How did ABC's partner, the Washington Post, play the poll? Pretty much the same. Tuesday's paper featured a front-page graphic showing 80 percent of poll respondents think a civil war is likely in Iraq. Then on A3, Post pollster Richard Morin highlighted the civil war finding. The headline: "Majority in U.S. Fears Iraq Civil War: Poll Also Finds Growing Doubt About Bush."
But "growing doubt" isn't found in the approval number. In paragraph six, we finally read: "Recent U.S. reversals in Iraq have not dramatically reduced overall support for President Bush, in contrast to some other national polls. His overall job approval rating stood at 41 percent, essentially unchanged from January. Nearly six in 10 disapproved of his job performance, the 11th consecutive survey since last April in which at least half the country has been critical of Bush's leadership." How are these polls slanted? Let us count the ways.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll, released late Monday afternoon, found majority support for a media bete noire, FBI and NSA wiretapping of people inside the United States in the war on terror, but those findings were ignored in the story posted on the Washington Post Web site and aired on ABC's World News Tonight. Instead, both stressed how 80 percent believe “civil war” is likely in Iraq. “Majority of Americans Believe Iraq Civil War is Likely,” read the WashingtonPost.com headline over the 5:30pm EST story by Richard Morin, which is likely to appear in near-identical form in Tuesday's hard copy. The subhead: “Washington Post-ABC News Poll Finds Sharp Decline in Optimism About Iraq War.” [10pm EST: Indeed, link now goes to March 7 print story on page A3, with a new headline: "Majority in U.S. Fear Iraq Civil War; Poll Also Finds Growing Doubt About Bush"]. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas relayed how “65 percent say the Bush administration has no clear plan for ending the war,” before George Stephanopoulos outlined how the public is “all over the map” on what to do in Iraq. The Post story, and ABC, however, did note that the public is also sour on Democrats. Sounding exasperated, Vargas cued up Stephanopoulos: "In the meantime, Democrats are incapable of capitalizing on this?" The ABC duo also ignored Bush's approval level pegged at 41 percent, seven points higher than the “all-time low” for Bush last week in a CBS News poll (NewsBusters item) which was much-touted by the networks (MRC Media Reality Check).
Think the mainstream media has let go of its anger over the events surrounding the release of Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident to the press? Judging from the tone of his comments on today’s American Morning, CNN’s senior national correspondent John Roberts certainly has not. Roberts, formerly biased over at CBS News as the MRC’s Rich Noyes reported here, appeared shortly after 8am to discuss President Bush’s speech in India. After trumpeting the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showing the job approval numbers for the President slipping, Roberts attributed the decline to a "tired" White House staff.
John Roberts: "But there’s no question that the people at the White House have, you know, they’re almost like the gang that can’t shoot straight–"
That’s when Roberts took his shot at the White House and Cheney:
Roberts: "–and when they do shoot straight, they don’t tell people about it for 24 hours. But the problem could be that they’re, they’re suffering real fatigue there, that they’re burned out, that they need to bring in some new blood."
The transcript of the segment with American Morning co-host Miles O'Brien is behind the cut.