CBS’s Thalia Assuras did a piece on “The Early Show” this morning (video link to follow) about President Bush’s falling poll numbers. In it, she took a snippet out of an interview that Bob Schieffer did with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) yesterday on “Face The Nation” to indicate that the senator was “concerned” about these polls and what they are currently suggesting. However, the sentences after this fragment that were not included in Assuras’s report qualified McCain’s concerns.
For example, Assuras stated, “The latest poll shows his support remains at its lowest ever, and that’s causing concern in his own party.” Then came McCain’s quote: “As a loyal Republican and a person who’s loyal to this president I am of course concerned. These numbers are not good.”
However, what CBS chose not to show the viewer were McCain’s next sentences (from caption dump):
“I take some comfort in the knowledge that the last two administrations in their second term, both Clinton and Reagan, had serious problems. They were different problems but they were serious problems. Both were able to emerge.”
Maybe most important, Assuras claimed in her piece that Bush’s declining poll numbers have a lot to do with the country’s negative perception of the Iraq war. Since Assuras was going to quote statements made by McCain on “Face The Nation” yesterday, why didn’t she include the beginning of that interview when the senator said that he didn’t believe President Bush lied about intelligence concerning Iraq WMD? In fact, in that interview, McCain unequivocally stated, “I think it's a lie to say that the president lied to the American people.”
What follows is a full transcript of Assuras’s report with a video link, as well as a transcript and video link of the section of the McCain interview dealing with Iraq.
Assuras: Good morning Rene. Well, more bad news as you as say as Mr.. Bush leaves. The latest poll shows his support remains at its lowest ever, and that’s causing concern in his own party.
McCain: As a loyal republican and a person who’s loyal to this president I am of course concerned. These numbers are not good.
Assuras: The reason for the concern is new numbers showing the president’s job approval rating is the lowest ever -- 36% according to "Newsweek" magazine. That’s consistent with other recent polls. AP showed it at 37%, while a CBS poll showed his rating down to 35%. A consistently key concern -- the war in Iraq. The latest poll shows two-thirds of Americans think Mr. Bush is mishandling the war. Republicans deny a connection between the war in Iraq and the domestic agenda.
RNC Chairman Mehlman: Ultimately, Iraq should not be about domestic politics. Iraq’s about national security. On September 11th we learned we need to think first and foremost about protecting America.
Assuras: The recent indictment of Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff I. Scooter Libby over the CIA leak has not helped, either. And with a possible indictment hanging over Karl Rove the president's closest adviser, some Republicans wonder if the president should think about a replacement. McCain even suggested someone, former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson.
McCain: I love Fred Thompson. I think he’s a great guy.
Assuras: Well, Mr. Bush will be out of Washington for eight days perhaps hoping his trip abroad will distract from these poor numbers. Rene?
Bob Schieffer: Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?
McCain: No, I think it's a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it's a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silberman commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them, I said, were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw it? Every one of them said “no.” Now, was there a colossal intelligence failure? Of course there was. Is there still a lot of things that need to be done to improve that? Are we winning the war on terror? I think it depends on your parameters. But to assert that the president intentionally lied to the American people is just wrong. And, could I finally say, every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russian, including the French, including the Israeli, all had reached the same conclusion and that was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. So, I think open, honest disagreement, more discussion, more debate, the more facts that come out, the better off we are. But I would not accept the premise the president lied.