CBS Selectively Frames Senate Vote, Ignoring How Most of Public Support Funding
As Couric pointed out how “nearly three out of four Americans say the troop surge is not working, that it's having no impact, or actually making matters worse,” the on-screen graphic showed “No Impact or Worse” at 73 percent. But “not working” was not an option in the survey and only 22 percent said the surge is making the situation “worse.” The majority, 51 percent, answered “no impact.”
In reciting how 61 percent want the troops funded with a timetable, Attkisson skipped over how a mere 8 percent wish all funding blocked, a share unchanged from a February CBS News poll which determined that Americans were almost exactly evenly split on whether Congress should "pass a non-binding resolution against sending additional troops to Iraq" with 44 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. But, as recounted in a February 12 NewsBusters item:
In highlighting how the Senate "will begin a three-day debate on a non-binding, symbolic resolution stating its disapproval of President Bush's Iraq troop build-up," CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric ignored that finding of an evenly-divided nation. Instead, she focused on how "a total of 53 percent say Congress ought to block funding for additional troops or for the war entirely."The CBSNews.com summary of the new survey conducted July 9-17, “Poll: Most Support Iraq Timetable; CBS/NYT Poll: 61% Say Congress Shouldn't Fund War Without Timetable for Troop Withdrawal.” The PDF with the full results.
In offering up that number, which combined two answers, she obscured the poll question's real news: A piddling 8 percent wish to "block all funding" for the war in Iraq. As an on-screen graphic showed, to get to 53 percent Couric and CBS producers combined the 8 percent with the 45 percent who want to "block funding for more troops" -- a percent only slightly higher than, and within the three-point margin of error, the 42 percent who want to "allow all funding." CBS's graphic did not include the 42 percent result.
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this partial transcript from the July 18 CBS Evening News:
“Hello, everyone. Senate Democrats failed today in their latest attempt to bring American troops home from Iraq. After a rare, all-night debate, they couldn't come up with the votes today to bring the latest troop withdrawal measure to the floor. And that is in spite of pressure from the voters themselves. In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, nearly three out of four Americans say the troop surge is not working, that it's having no impact, or actually making matters worse. And nearly two out of three want the President to bring some or all U.S. forces home. Sharyl Attkisson is on Capitol Hill tonight. And, Sharyl, we haven't seen a Senate session like this one in quite a while, have we?”In the subsequent story, Attkisson observed:
“But when the sun rose, the moment served only to define the entire Congress as powerless to keep the Democrats' campaign promise to force an end to the war. That's despite the latest CBS News poll showing 61 percent of Americans want the war funded with a timetable for withdrawal.”