You'd think NBC News would want its viewers to tune into their coverage of tonight's State of the Union address but after listening to this morning's Today show a viewer would be hard pressed to want to tune in as Meredith Vieira and David Gregory asked repeatedly if anyone still cared what Bush had to say. Today's anchors asked that question on three separate occasions within just the first half-hour.
First Vieira, at the top of the show pondered: "The question tonight will anybody be listening to the President anymore when he speaks?" A few minutes later David Gregory, substitute hosting for Matt Lauer, asked Tony Snow: "Tony has the country stopped listening to the President?" Then in her interview with Hillary Clinton Vieira's first question continued Today's theme: "You just heard Tony Snow that he does not believe that the public has stopped listening to the President, do you agree with that?"
Vieira and Gregory, opened the January 23 Today show by focusing on the President's low approval poll numbers:
Vieira: "Good morning into the lion's den. With his poll numbers at an all-time low President Bush heads to Capitol Hill to deliver his State of the Union address for the first time to a Congress dominated by Democrats."
David Gregory: "Big day in Washington. The President delivers his State of the Union address tonight and when he does the President is gonna be facing a stark new reality in Washington, a newly empowered Democratic Congress and waning support at home. According to our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll 57 percent of Americans want Congress to take a lead role in setting policy in this country. Look at this, only 22 percent think the President should. Difficult numbers for him."
Vieira: "Absolutely. The question is tonight will anybody be listening to the President anymore when he speaks? We will get a preview of the State of the Union in just a moment from the President's press secretary Tony Snow."
In his interview with Snow, Gregory hit the White House press secretary with the low poll numbers before repeating the, "Is anybody still listening?" theme:
"The results of our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll are discouraging for the President. His approval rating stands at just 35 percent. 28 percent approve of his handling of Iraq, that's it. And then there is this, as mentioned, just 22 percent of the country wants him playing a lead role in setting policy. Tony has the country stopped listening to the President?"
Most of Gregory's questions centered around Iraq but he did find time to slip in this leading question on the environment: "Will, will he concede that humans are responsible for global warming?"
The following are all of Gregory's questions to Snow:
David Gregory: "The results of our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll are discouraging for the President. His approval rating stands at just 35 percent. 28 percent approve of his handling of Iraq, that's it. And then there is this, as mentioned, just 22 percent of the country wants him playing a lead role in setting policy. Tony has the country stopped listening to the President?"
Gregory: "Okay but Tony when you say skeptical of Congress, again according to this poll, the public would much rather see the Democratic-led congress driving policy driving policy than this President. You're not just blaming that on bad press coverage are you?"
Gregory: "Let me ask you, specifically, about Iraq and it's not about just Democrats but key Republicans who are criticizing the President's troop increase. Senator John Warner of Virginia has backed a resolution that concludes, in part, quote, 'The American GI was not trained or sent over there to Iraq to be placed in the middle of a fight between Sunni and Shia.' Is this a blow to the White House?"
Gregory: "But you, you, you certainly the President doesn't want to be doing this in defiance of public will and again according to our poll 65 percent of the people say don't send in more troops to Iraq unless Congress provides the authorization."
Gregory: "Alright just 30 seconds left. Let's talk about domestic policy. You can tip your hand right here and I hope you'll do it. What is the major headline the President will make tonight on domestic policy that he wants Americans talking about tomorrow?"
Gregory: "Will, will he concede that humans are responsible for global warming?"
Gregory: "We'll be watching tonight. Tony Snow, the press secretary for the President. Tony, thanks very much."