Nobody would argue that President Bush is overly popular at the moment. The media, however, seem determined to keep it that way. The April 28 edition of Today made this point extremely clear. Katie Couric opened the NBC program with this tease of a Brian Williams presidential interview:
Couric: "President Bush on those skyrocketing gas prices, his plummeting poll numbers and whether New Orleans is ready for hurricane season."
At 7:03AM EDT, Matt Lauer introduced the Williams interview this way:
Lauer: "Before we get to all that, let's talk about President Bush on those rising gas prices, the future of FEMA and his dismal poll numbers."
And the sneaky use of adjectives wasn’t the only tactic that Today employed. The Williams interview, which also aired the day before on NBC’s Nightly News, was followed by a segment on drivers with long commutes. At 7:15AM EDT, Lauer previewed the segment with this snarky comment:
Lauer: "The President is one of the lucky ones. He only has to walk from the White House residence to the Oval Office to go to work."
Anyone sensing a theme? Bush is a plummeting, unpopular president and he has it easy, unlike most Americans who have to drive to work and pay high gas prices. Additionally, Today’s use of the word "plummeting" is, to be charitable, not inaccurate. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from December 9 had Bush’s approval number at 39 percent, which is where he was on January 26. By March 10th, the same polling service found that he had declined to 37 percent. Their most recent survey, from April 21, found Bush’s favorable rating holding at 36 percent. According to dictionary.com, the definition of plummeting (link) is: "To decline suddenly and steeply." Keeping in mind the fact that the poll has a 3.1 percent margin of error, is NBC using the proper word choice? Or is this more about kicking President Bush when he’s down and then making sure he stays on the ground?