CBS: 'Devastating' Poll for Bush, 'Stunning' How More See Iraq as Mistake than Vietnam

“Tonight a vote of no confidence in President Bush,” anchor Katie Couric trumpeted at the top of Monday's CBS Evening News over “Sinking Support” on screen under video of Bush. She explained: “A devastating new poll finds a record number of Americans [75%] now disapprove of the way he's handling the war.” Couric used the “devastating” description a second time before Bob Schieffer came aboard to assert that opposition to the Iraq war “is taking on historic proportions” since in 1973 a Gallup survey determined 60 percent thought going to war in Vietnam was a mistake, but the new CBS News poll found “that slightly more Americans than that, 62 percent, now believe it was a mistake to go to Iraq. That is simply stunning." Of course, in 1973 there was a slower news cycle and a lot fewer media outlets, and no 24/7 cable services or Web sites, to pound away at every negative development in the war.

A PDF of the full poll results reported that CBS News surveyed more Democrats than Republicans, by 328 to 273 -- with 321 independents.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for portions of the December 11 CBS Evening News:

Katie Couric, in opening teaser:
"I'm Katie Couric. Tonight a vote of no confidence in President Bush. A devastating new poll finds a record number of Americans now disapprove of the way he's handling the war. Jim Axelrod and Bob Schieffer on the President's sinking polls numbers, and the latest advice he's getting."
Couric opened her newscast:
"Hi, everyone. President Bush today began another week of consultations looking for what he calls a new way forward in Iraq. And most Americans agree we need one. In a CBS News poll out tonight, a record 71 percent said the war is going badly. More than half say it's unlikely the United States will win [53%]. And a record number say the war is the most pressing problem America is facing right now [35%]. It is certainly the President's top priority, so we'll begin at the White House with Jim Axelrod."
Following a story from Jim Axelrod at the White House, Couric turned to Bob Schieffer:
“For more perspective on the President's devastating new poll numbers, we turn now to our Chief Washington correspondent, Bob Schieffer. Bob?”
Schieffer expounded:
"Katie, if you were George Bush, I'd have to say it just does not get any worse than this. And the more you get into this poll, the more you understand just how deeply this opposition to the war is now running. Only 21 percent now approve of the President's handling of the war, but look at why: Because he is now losing his own base -- Republicans and conservatives. Just last month, even after the election that cost them control of Congress, 70 percent of Republicans still approved the President's handling of the war. Now that has dropped 23 points in a month. This is opposition that is taking on historic proportions. By 1973, at the height of American opposition to the war in Vietnam, a Gallup poll showed that 60 percent of those polled said it had been a mistake to send our troops to Vietnam. Well, today's poll shows that slightly more Americans than that, 62 percent, now believe it was a mistake to go to Iraq. That is simply stunning."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center