Before President Bush’s Tuesday State of the Union address, at least three network reporters seemingly read from the same talking points as they described the public mood with the exact same word: “sour.” As noted in an earlier NewsBusters item, on World News Tonight, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos insisted that “the country is just in a sour mood.” About 90 minutes before Bush’s address, CNN’s Jeff Greenfield wondered “whether the President can connect with a populace that is in a sour, pessimistic mood?” He pointed out how “only Nixon, in the year of his resignation, had a lower job approval rating,” before echoing his earlier question: “I think the President would like the country to believe he feels their pain or at least their anxiety about health care, about jobs, about the whole sense that something's gone a little sour." Then on Fox, minutes before Bush began, Chris Wallace attributed the “sour” assessment to Bush as he predicted Bush would deliver a “presidential pep talk where he believes that the country has, the mood has turned sour -- sour on the war, sour on the economy, sour on the government's response to Katrina.” Afterward, Wallace described the speech as “tough in terms of the war in Iraq and people souring on that.” (Transcripts follow.)
Well, we've now got the AP's analysis on the President's State Of The Union address tonight, and it is nothing if not predictable. Frankly, one wonders whether Ron Fournier even bothered to wait until the speech had started, never mind ended, before producing this news analysis.
The state of the union is fretful. President Bush acknowledged the public's agitated state Tuesday night when he gave voice to growing concerns about the course of the nation he has led for five years.
His credibility no longer the asset it once was, the president begged Americans' indulgence for another chance to fix things.
Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday, ABC’s World News Tonight delivered the most downbeat take on the public attitude facing President Bush as he delivers his State of the Union (SOTU) address. Anchor Elizabeth Vargas framed the evening around how Bush “is coming off the worst year of his presidency, from the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, to record-high energy prices, to growing unhappiness with the war in Iraq.” George Stephanopoulos soon insisted that “the country is just in a sour mood,” as evidenced by Bush’s 42 percent approval rating, “ten points below where it was last year.” Stephanopoulos added: “And for the first time in his presidency, a majority of Americans...want to follow congressional Democrats rather than President Bush: 51-35.” Stephanopoulos, however, did allow that “on the other hand, President Bush is still very strong on national security.” (Transcript follows.)