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Polls? What Polls?
On-air Comments By Network News Stars Make Laughable Any Pretense Of Neutrality 
Toward N.C. Senator

Op-ed by Brent Baker, Vice President of the Media Research Center,
as printed in the March 30, 2001 edition of New York Post

By Brent Baker

Why do the networks avoid reporting how their own polls find support for Bush’s tax cut plan? 

About four weeks ago, the CBS Evening News refused to inform its viewers of how, after Bush’s address to Congress, a CBS News survey found that 67 percent backed his tax cut plan. Now ABC’s done the same thing. An ABC News/Washington Post poll discovered 58 percent think Bush’s tax cut plan is "about right” or “too small” while just 36 percent consider it “too big.” But instead of reporting that, on Monday night ABC’s Terry Moran stressed how the public is “becoming a little skeptical about some aspects of his leadership” as he has “an anemic rating” for handling the economy, and Americans “by a margin of two to one believe that Bush “favors large business corporations over the interests of ordinary working people.”

Elizabeth Vargas on World News Tonight announced Monday, as transcribed by the MRC: “An ABC News/Washington Post poll out today provides an interesting reading on public perceptions about President Bush’s job performance so far. After a little more than two months in office, Mr. Bush’s overall approval rating is at 58 percent. But people are more skeptical about his performance so far on a number of important issues.”

White House reporter Terry Moran, despite being in the field covering Bush’s push for his tax cut, skipped over the poll’s numbers on the public attitude toward Bush’s tax cut. Instead, he picked up on Vargas’ theme about Bush’s weak approval rating: “The President is back on the road here in Billings, and earlier in the day in Kansas City, pushing for his tax cut. In both states there are Democratic senators he’s trying to win over, but he is, as you note, addressing a public that is becoming a little skeptical about some aspects of his leadership. Take a look at what our poll found. Fifty percent of Americans, only 50 percent, approve of the way the President is handling the economy.

“It’s lower than any (rating) President Clinton ever had, and there's even more ominous news. By a margin of two-to-one, 61 to 31 percent, Americans polled in our polls say that the President favors large business corporations over the interests of ordinary working people.”

Moran concluded: “It is going to be a feat of rhetorical sleight-of-hand for the President to sell the tax cut as an economic recovery plan.”

Maybe he already has succeeded. Tuesday’s Washington Post reported a poll result ABC ignored. The question: “As you may know, Bush has proposed cutting taxes by up $1.6 trillion over ten years. Do you think this tax cut is too big, too small or about right?” 

The answers: “About right,” replied 48 percent, “too small,” said ten percent and “too big” responded the 36 percent who agree with the Washington press corps. Six percent had “no opinion.”

Mr. Brent Baker is Vice President of the Media Research Center, whose CyberAlerts can be found at http://www.mrc.org.

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