CBS Ignores How Most Say Foley Makes 'No Difference,' Stresses Bad News for GOP

A new CBS News/New York Times poll discovered, that despite day after day pounding from the news media, two-thirds said the Foley matter will make “no difference” in how they vote -- with 72 percent of independents saying so as well as a majority of Democrats (51 percent). But, Monday's CBS Evening News ignored that response as Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer found plenty of other bad news for the GOP to highlight. Couric asserted that Mark Foley's “tawdry story continues to unfold just 29 days before the midterm elections,” as if she and her media colleagues are not active participants in fueling it, and the “poll tonight indicates the GOP is in big trouble.” Schieffer declared: “This poll is about as bad as it can get for Republicans” because it suggests “that more and more Americans just don't believe them anymore, whether they are in the White House or in Congress.” Specifically, “a sizable majority, 57 percent, believes the President had warnings before 9/11 of a terrorist attack,” “nearly half, 47 percent, believe Democrats are more likely to share American moral values compared to 38 percent for Republicans” and “by two to one, Americans now believe Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats.”

Over on ABC, George Stephanopoulos listed a lot of bad news for Republicans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, but anchor Charles Gibson began with how the fresh survey found “just 18 percent of voters consider the scandal an important issue.” NBC's Martin Savidge undermined the premise of how GOP voters are disillusioned. For the NBC Nightly News, he traveled to Tennessee where he learned that “Christian conservatives blame former Congressman Foley, not the party. Everyone we talked to said they'll be there come election day.”

Of course, both network/newspaper polls of registered voters were taken after an onslaught of media-driven news which placed Republicans and Bush in a bad light -- from Bob Woodward's much-hyped book to the obsession with the Foley matter -- so a dip down is hardly a surprise.

The CBSNews.com posting of a summary of the poll. The PDF of all the questions and aswers. The ABCNews.com article on their poll.


The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the October 9 CBS and ABC evening newscast stories on their polls.

CBS Evening News. Katie Couric set up Schieffer with more on the page scandal:
"The House Ethics Committee asked all House members today to turn over any relevant information they might have for the investigation into that page scandal. It also requested that members get in touch with current and former pages and ask whether they had any inappropriate contact with Mark Foley or any other Congressman. This tawdry story continues to unfold just 29 days before the midterm elections, and a CBS News/New York Times poll tonight indicates the GOP is in big trouble. Our chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer has been analyzing the numbers. Hi, Bob."
Bob Schieffer reported, from DC:
"How are you, Katie? Well, I tell you, this poll is about as bad as it can get for Republicans because what it suggests, Katie, is that more and more Americans just don't believe them anymore, whether they are in the White House or in Congress. Remember that Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he didn't know about those suggestive e-mails that Congressman Foley sent to that 16-year-old House page? Well, our CBS News/New York Times survey shows more than 60 percent of those polled believe Republican leaders did know. Even 40 percent of Republicans believe the leaders knew.

“And if they don't trust the Speaker on that, look at whether they believe what the President has been saying about fighting terrorism, which used to be the Republicans' strong suit. For the first time, a sizable majority, 57 percent, believes the President had warnings before 9/11 of a terrorist attack in this country. That suggests a loss of confidence that could be devastating to any political party, and the rest of this poll is no better for the Republicans. With the Foley scandal continuing to unfold, Democrats now seem to be capturing the moral high ground. Nearly half, 47 percent, believe Democrats are more likely to share American moral values compared to 38 percent for Republicans. A year ago, they were about equal. And by two to one, Americans now believe Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats. Katie, Republicans knew they had some hard days ahead, but if this poll is right, it's going to be even harder than they thought."


ABC's World News. Charles Gibson led into Stephanopoulos:
"Republicans fear the Foley scandal could cost them congressional seats in November, but according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll out tonight, just 18 percent of voters consider the scandal an important issue. In contrast, 83 percent see Iraq as a major issue. Terrorism and the economy also rank much higher as concerns for voters. So we turn to our chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos. And, George, I'm going to put these numbers up right next to you because it does show that the Foley scandal is dwarfed by other concerns. And that would seem to be good news for Republicans, but other numbers in the poll might not be such good news for the Republicans."
From DC, George Stephanopoulos outlined:
"That's right, Charlie. A lot of flashing red lights for Republicans in this new poll. We find that only 32 percent of the country approves the job Congress is doing; only 39 percent approve of the job the President's doing; 66 percent of the country thinks we're going in the wrong direction; and by a 13-point margin they prefer Democrats over Republicans come November. So what this basically shows is that the bump that the President and his party got in September by focusing on terrorism and by falling gas prices has gone away. They're back to the same low numbers they've been fighting all year."

Gibson: "All right, you just mentioned that the approval numbers for Congress are very, very low, and that would obviously seem to be problems for incumbents. But there's always that old conventional wisdom, George, that people don't like the Congress as a whole, but then they turn around and vote for their member who's already there."

Stephanopoulos: "And that is still holding up, Charlie. You look at this poll, and 60 percent still approve of their individual member of Congress. And I think that's a testament and it validates the Republican strategy this year, which is all politics is local. They stole it from Tip O'Neill. They basically built a levee around their members, and the question is: Can it fight back this national wave?"
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