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CBS Again Cites Negative Bush Numbers in Poll With Skewed Sample --11/4/2005


1. CBS Again Cites Negative Bush Numbers in Poll With Skewed Sample
In a Thursday CBS Evening News story on how Karl Rove is a "distraction" in the West Wing, Gloria Borger cited how "a new CBS News poll shows that only 39 percent of Americans say that President Bush has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, down eleven points since early last year." But that number comes from the same poll, it turns out, that CBS News skewed by weighting it to undercount Republicans and over-count independents. The Wednesday CyberAlert recounted how on that night's Evening News, John Roberts pointed out how at 35 percent approval "the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon." Subsequently, NewsBusters' blogger Noel Sheppard picked up on how "Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics posted an analysis of this poll's methodology....What his figures show is that CBS polled 46% more Democrats in its weighted sample than Republicans."

2. ABC Highlights Poll Showing Support for Roe and Bad News for Bush
ABC's Good Morning America and World News Tonight on Thursday trumpeted ABC News/Washington Post poll numbers which match the media's liberal views and/or bad news numbers for President Bush. But, just as with CBS's latest poll as detailed in #1 above, ABC under-sampled Republicans. GMA's Robin Roberts asserted that "Americans are offering lukewarm support for the President's Supreme Court nominee" and how "a majority of Americans still support legal abortion and would not want Alito to change that." World News Tonight anchor Bob Woodruff teased the newscast: "Fewer than half of Americans see the President as honest and trustworthy." Woodruff soon brought aboard George Stephanopoulos to discuss the poll findings, starting with how "59 percent of Americans believe Mr. Rove should resign." Woodruff emphasized how Rove "has still not been cleared." He moved on to how "the President's approval rating is now only 39 percent."

3. NBC's ER Features Blessing With Shot at "War Founded on Lies"
We interrupt our regular programming for a left-wing blast at American foreign policy. About three-fourths of the way through Thursday's ER on NBC, a character giving a dinner table blessing began her prayer with rhetoric that could have been lifted from MoveOn.org's Web site: "Thank you, Lord, for the blessings we are about to receive. Look over those now who cannot be with us, including the countrymen who fight to protect us in an overseas war founded on lies told to us by our government."

4. West Wing Fantasy: Pro-Choice Repub Soars Sans Right Wing Baggage
Hollywood's fantasy that Republicans could sweep the nation if they only put up a "pro-choice" candidate animated last Sunday's episode -- and Janeane Garofalo got in a blast at conservatives. NBC is promising an "unprecedented West Wing event" in this Sunday's sweeps stunt of a live debate between liberal presidential candidate "Matt Santos," played by Jimmy Smits, and the anti-religious right Republican "Arnie Vinick," played by Alan Alda. Last Sunday, Vinick is angered by an independent ad which attacks Santos for opposing parental notification and a ban on partial-birth abortions, policies the otherwise pro-choice Vinick backs: "Who told them to drag abortion into my campaign?" Demanding the ad be pulled, Vinick asserts: "Do you realize how many states my pro-choice position puts on the table?" Later, Santos remarks: "Vinick's appeal is that he's a different kind of Republican, moderate, reasonable, pro-choice." Democratic VP nominee "Leo McGarry" relegates two mainstream positions as far right: "Vinick's the one who won't criticize his party on this -- partial-birth, parental notification. He's bowing to the far-right fringes." In one scene the character played by Garofalo rants about "reckless Republican tax cuts" and asks: "Do you want the right wing to get their judges?"

5. "Top Ten Ways CBS News Can Attract Younger Viewers"
Letterman's "Top Ten Ways CBS News Can Attract Younger Viewers."


CBS Again Cites Negative Bush Numbers
in Poll With Skewed Sample

In a Thursday CBS Evening News story on how Karl Rove is a "distraction" in the West Wing, Gloria Borger cited how "a new CBS News poll shows that only 39 percent of Americans say that President Bush has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, down eleven points since early last year." But that number comes from the same poll, it turns out, that CBS News skewed by weighting it to undercount Republicans and over-count independents. The Wednesday CyberAlert recounted how on that night's Evening News, John Roberts pointed out how at 35 percent approval "the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon." Subsequently, NewsBusters' blogger Noel Sheppard picked up on how "Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics posted an analysis of this poll's methodology....What his figures show is that CBS polled 46% more Democrats in its weighted sample than Republicans."

For the November 3 CyberAlert item: www.mediaresearch.org

(On Thursday's Early Show, Bill Plante highlighted the same poll finding of how "the President's approval rating has hit an all-time low in the wake of the indictments, Hurricane Katrina, the Harriet Miers nomination and continuing casualties in Iraq." Then, over a graphic showing second term approval ratings for Bush, Clinton, Reagan and Nixon, Plante asserted: "Among recent Presidents, only Richard Nixon was lower at this point in a second term." But the numbers in the CBS graphic were certainly not the low points for Clinton, who they listed at 57 percent, or Reagan, who they placed at 65 percent.)

Back to the poll sample, CBS polled 259 Republicans, but weighted the sample to count for only 223, or 24 percent of the total; they surveyed 326 Democrats and held that number so they represented 35 percent of those polled; and independents moved from 351 respondents to a weighted 388 for 41 percent of the sample. Sheppard explained: "To put these numbers in proper perspective, according to the November 2004 exit polls, the nation's current party affiliation is 37 percent Democrats, 37 percent Republicans, and 26 percent independents. As such, the polling agency involved in this result fell 36 percent short in sampling Republicans while over-sampling independents by 59 percent."

For Sheppard's posting on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog: newsbusters.org

For the Real Clear Politics analysis: www.realclearpolitics.com

[This item was adapted, with slight changes, from its posting Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Brit Hume led his Thursday "Grapevine" segment, on Special Report with Brit Hume, with the skewed poll: "A new CBS News poll shows the President's job approval rating has hit an all-time low in any poll of 35 percent with 68 percent of respondents telling CBS that the country is on the 'wrong track.' CBS cites the Iraq war, the Libby indictment and the response to Hurricane Katrina as reasons for the decline. But the poll's weighted sample may be more telling. 28 percent of those polled identified themselves as Republicans, compared to 35 percent who said they were Democrats. But CBS dropped the importance of Republican responses even further, weighting the sample so the Republican responses counted for only 24 percent of the final results. 37 percent of voters in last year's election called themselves Republicans, while 37 percent said they were Democrats and 26 percent called themselves independents."

Vaughn Ververs, Editor of CBS News' "Public Eye" blog, in an item which cited the Wednesday NewsBusters/MRC CyberAlert take on Roberts/Nixon, took up the weighting revelation by Real Clear Politics. First, in his November 3 item titled, "Bad News Isn't Fun But It Doesn't Last Forever," he cited a general explanation of weighting which is posted on the CBSNews.com site:
"At the end of our surveys, we find sometimes that we have questioned too many people from one group or another. Older people, for example, tend to be at home to answer the phone more than younger people, so there is often a greater percentage of older people in our surveys than exists in the American public."

He then asked: "So how does a poll end up being comprised of 35% Democrats, 41% Independents and 24% Republicans? [Director of Surveys for CBS News Kathy] Frankovic explains that there is no adjusting for party identification in the CBS News polls and that the weighting described above accounts for the changes in the party ID. Frankovic notes: 'The people who tend to be under-represented in a sample...tend to be younger and tend to be more minorities. So that by assuring that the sample looks like the country, you're probably going to almost always increase the number of Democrats.' In short, when the sample is adjusted to match the Census Bureau data, the party ID percentages change."

For Ververs' look in full: www.cbsnews.com

That still doesn't explain for me the much higher percent of Democrats and independents counted than Republicans which does not match their percentages in the population, a skew that I think is evidenced in how CBS's 35 percent approval for Bush is four or more points lower than other recent polls.

For the finding Borger cited, check page 2 of the CBSNews.com posting of the poll released Wednesday. Scroll down to: "COMPARED TO MOST PEOPLE IN PUBLIC LIFE, BUSH'S HONESTY & INTEGRITY IS..." www.cbsnews.com

Go here for the PDF from CBS News of all the poll numbers, with the "unweighted" versus "weighted" numbers by party affiliation at the very end: www.cbsnews.com

Now, Borger's November 3 CBS Evening News story in full, which was followed by anchor Bob Schieffer wanting to know if Karl Rove will "have to leave?"

Gloria Borger: "By all appearances, it's business as usual for Rove, but Republican sources say his problems are a distraction even for this disciplined administration. Ron Klain was Vice President Al Gore's chief of staff throughout much of the turmoil in the Clinton years and says disruption is inevitable."
Ron Klain: "It would be inhuman not to be distracted or diverted by reading in the newspaper every day that your colleagues are speculating about your departure."
Borger: "And tension creeps into the West Wing when staffers have to testify about each other under oath."
Klain: "It complicates White House communications at the very least."
Borger: "Just ask Scott McClellan, the President's Press Secretary, who said this about 'Scooter' Libby and Karl Rove two years ago."
McClellan, October 10, 2003: "I spoke with those individuals, as I've pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this."
Borger: "That inaccuracy haunts McClellan-"
Voice of NBC's David Gregory to McClellan, unknown date: "You were wrong then, weren't you?"
Borger: "-and affects the President."
Borger: "A new CBS News poll shows that only 39 percent of Americans say that President Bush has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, down eleven points since early last year [on screen: "about the same" at 27 percent, "less" at 29 percent"]. White House advisers are supposed to provide reality checks for Presidents isolated in the Oval Office."
Klain: "Then he becomes completely dependent on what filters to him. I think White House aides are no different than any employee in any office in any place in America. Which is, you want to tell the boss good news and you want to be on the boss' good side, you hate to tell him he is messing up."
Borger: "But someone has to do it and that's why some inside the White House now are quietly lobbying for change, Bob."
Schieffer: "Well, what do you hear? This is a White House, Gloria, that as we all know that doesn't say much. But there's a lot of talk about this. Where do you think they're coming down on this. Is he going to have to leave?"
Borger: "Well, what's fascinating about this, Bob, as you point out, this is a White House that doesn't really leak. And now we see a White House that's very publicly divided. There's the pro-Karl Rove camp, the people that think the White House cannot function without him. There's the anti-Karl Rove camp, the people who believe that he can no longer a be effective and needs to leave if the President is going to get beyond this CIA investigation."

ABC Highlights Poll Showing Support for
Roe and Bad News for Bush

ABC's Good Morning America and World News Tonight on Thursday trumpeted ABC News/Washington Post poll numbers which match the media's liberal views and/or bad news numbers for President Bush. But, just as with CBS's latest poll as detailed in #1 above, ABC under-sampled Republicans. GMA's Robin Roberts asserted that "Americans are offering lukewarm support for the President's Supreme Court nominee" and how "a majority of Americans still support legal abortion and would not want Alito to change that." World News Tonight anchor Bob Woodruff teased the newscast: "Fewer than half of Americans see the President as honest and trustworthy." Woodruff soon brought aboard George Stephanopoulos to discuss the poll findings, starting with how "59 percent of Americans believe Mr. Rove should resign." Woodruff emphasized how Rove "has still not been cleared." He moved on to how "the President's approval rating is now only 39 percent."

Noel Sheppard, on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog, pointed out that of those surveyed, 52 percent "leaned" Democratic compared to 41 percent who leaned Republican. For Sheppard's posting: newsbusters.org

For the ABCNews.com posting of the poll results: abcnews.go.com

For the detailed results, with the party identification of those polled, see this page on WashingtonPost.com: www.washingtonpost.com

During the 7am news update on the November 3 GMA, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, Robin Roberts related: "Americans are offering lukewarm support for the President's Supreme Court nominee according to a new ABC News / Washington Post poll. While 49 percent said Samuel Alito should be confirmed, 22 percent are waiting to make up their minds. When it comes to the issue of abortion, a majority of Americans still support legal abortion and would not want Alito to change that."

On screen: "Roe v. Wade. Would you want Alito to uphold or overturn? Uphold 64%, Overturn 31%"

Thursday night, anchor Bob Woodruff teased: "On World News Tonight: The Vice President's former chief of staff pleads not guilty and vows to go to trial. Why that makes the White House nervous. And our new poll -- fewer than half of Americans see the President as honest and trustworthy."

Following the lead story on Libby, Woodruff turned to Stephanopoulos who appeared from DC with the White House behind him. With a big "59%" on-screen, Woodruff reported: "The other major figure in this investigation, is the President's close White House aide and political adviser, Karl Rove. He has still not been cleared. Our new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe Mr. Rove should resign. We're joined by the host of ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos. George, you think that -- a resignation -- is a possibility?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, certainly not now, Bob. There is an unusual amount of private grumbling about Rove in and around the White House. But no one at the highest levels either wants Rove to go or believes he should go while the special prosecutor is still investigating this. Of course, if Rove is indicted, he'll be out of the White House the same day."
Woodruff, with matching numbers on screen: "George, two other numbers from our poll, the President's approval rating is now only 39 percent. And only 40 percent said that they found the President 'honest and trustworthy.' Very significant, George. Tough numbers. Both the lowest of his presidency. What do you think that means for him?"
Stephanopoulos: "And they are both rooted, Bob, in the Iraq war. We also found that 55 percent of the country now believes the Bush administration intentionally misled the country, making the case for the war. And only 39 percent of the country now believes the war was worth it. To turn his presidency around, President Bush must turn Iraq around."
Woodruff: "Something certainly has turned. George Stephanopoulos in Washington, thank you."

NBC's ER Features Blessing With Shot
at "War Founded on Lies"

We interrupt our regular programming for a left-wing blast at American foreign policy. About three-fourths of the way through Thursday's ER on NBC, a character giving a dinner table blessing began her prayer with rhetoric that could have been lifted from MoveOn.org's Web site: "Thank you, Lord, for the blessings we are about to receive. Look over those now who cannot be with us, including the countrymen who fight to protect us in an overseas war founded on lies told to us by our government."

Up to that point, there had been no discussion of the war or politics at all (the main plot line was about a sick baby monkey being treated secretly by the ER docs). After the anti-war protest, the story resumed without any further political references.

[This item, by Rich Noyes, was posted this morning, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To watch the scene, in either RealPlayer or Windows Media format, go to: newsbusters.org ]

The long-running NBC medical drama has a history of salting its script with left-wing talking points. Last year, two characters were discussing what to name their baby when the father suggested "George." His girlfriend declared the name unsuitable because it belonged to "the current occupant of the White House."

That episode also included gratuitous gushing over liberal columnist Molly Ivins. For details, see the May 13, 2004 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

West Wing Fantasy: Pro-Choice Repub Soars
Sans Right Wing Baggage

Hollywood's fantasy that Republicans could sweep the nation if they only put up a "pro-choice" candidate animated last Sunday's episode -- and Janeane Garofalo got in a blast at conservatives. NBC is promising an "unprecedented West Wing event" in this Sunday's sweeps stunt of a live debate between liberal presidential candidate "Matt Santos," played by Jimmy Smits, and the anti-religious right Republican "Arnie Vinick," played by Alan Alda. Last Sunday, Vinick is angered by an independent ad which attacks Santos for opposing parental notification and a ban on partial-birth abortions, policies the otherwise pro-choice Vinick backs: "Who told them to drag abortion into my campaign?" Demanding the ad be pulled, Vinick asserts: "Do you realize how many states my pro-choice position puts on the table?" Later, Santos remarks: "Vinick's appeal is that he's a different kind of Republican, moderate, reasonable, pro-choice." Democratic VP nominee "Leo McGarry" relegates two mainstream positions as far right: "Vinick's the one who won't criticize his party on this -- partial-birth, parental notification. He's bowing to the far-right fringes."

In one scene on the October 30 episode, Santos' media chief, "Louise Thornton," played by Janeane Garofalo, sounds just like the real-life Garofalo when she argues that the campaign must go negative against Vinick, and she cites the good being done by a Senator she got elected by going negative against his opponent: "I'm proud that he votes against every reckless Republican tax cut. We're the blue team and there's a real war going on. Josh, do you want the right wing to get their judges?"

Some quotes from the characters on the October 30 episode, starting after the "Committee for the Integrity of Human Life" produces an anti-Santos ad.

# Vinick goes to the RNC Chairman to ask that he get the ads pulled. The RNC guy points outs corporate conservatives and libertarians like Vinick, but Vinick doesn't speak to social conservative issues.
Vinick to RNC Chairman: "If this were Europe, the Republican Party would be three parties."
RNC guy: "Thank goodness they don't have to sleep together. They just have to show up on the same day and vote Republican."
Vinick, leaning forward at table: "Do you realize how many states my pro-choice position puts on the table? Do you realize how we can grow this party if we're willing to reach out?"
RNC guy: "I guess I'd like to see you unite the party that we have now. I'm not denouncing that ad. And I don't think you want to either, Arnie."


# VP candidate Leo McGarry, played by John Spencer, as Santos campaign haggles over how to respond to the ad: "We are the pro-choice party, there's no denying it. I'm not sure we don't stand up and say 'damn right, I'm pro-choice, so's 60 percent of the country.'"

Santos soon notes: "Vinick's appeal is that he's a different kind of Republican, moderate, reasonable, pro-choice."


# The Santos campaign decides to hit back so as to not lose "values voters." Campaign Manager "Josh Lyman," played by Bradley Whitford, needles his deputy, "Louise Thornton," played by Janeane Garofalo, on how happy she is about the campaign going negative. She recalls how one of her past Senate candidates "had weird financial business dealings with Taiwanese businessmen," yet beat a Republican who was "clean as a bar of soap" because they hit the Republican "with everything we could find. By the time he hit back, the voters thought it was just another ugly campaign, a pox on both their houses."
Lyman: "You're proud of that?"
"Thornton"/Garofalo: "I'm proud that Marion Hoff [the Democratic Senate candidate who won] defends Medicare and Medicaid in the Senate. I'm proud that he votes against every reckless Republican tax cut. We're the blue team and there's a real war going on. Josh, do you want the right wing to get their judges?"


# The "Women's Alliance for Choice" threatens to endorse Vinick because, as a woman named "Becca," who runs the group, tells McGarry: He's "pro-choice and he's probably going to win."

McGarry charges: "Vinick's the one who won't criticize his party on this -- partial-birth, parental notification. He's bowing to the far-right fringes."
Becca: "But if he wins they really will be the fringes won't they? And then both parties will be where the country is: pro-choice, down the line."
McGarry: "Becca, if you help a Republican get elected President you'll destroy the-"
Becca dreams: "Think how many more Republicans would have the courage to stand up for a woman's right to choose."


# As they walk through a factory, Vinick campaign strategist "Bruno Gianelli," played by Ron Silver, informs Vinick: "The Women's Alliance for Choice wants to endorse you."
Vinick: "You're kidding?"
Gianelli claims: "The heart of the Democratic base wants to support you. Santos would be doomed, we'd win 53 states, a couple of desert islands."


# The episode ends with both candidates going to the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan for the Al Smith dinner. Santos shocks McGarry by telling him that despite his pro-choice votes, he believes "life begins at conception."

In a hallway, Vinick lectures the RNC guy about why he's pro-choice: "I joined this party because the liberals were the ones who always wanted something from the government and we just wanted government to leave us alone, especially when there's no consensus otherwise. I'm trying to lead the majority who agrees on that, not the minority who wants to enact their version of Leviticus into law."


Recent CyberAlert articles about The West Wing:

# October 18 CyberAlert: On this past weekend's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, comedian Bill Maher pointed to the liberal scriptwriters of NBC's West Wing for political guidance. Maher touted how "Alan Alda plays a Republican Senator who tells the Christian Right to go screw." Maher yearned: "Why can't we have that in real life?" Last Tuesday (October 11) on MSNBC's Hardball, the Chicago Tribune's Jim Warren had also held up how the Alda character "confronts a top Christian Right official who insists on a public pledge that Alan Alda, if elected President, will only pick anti-abortion judges to the federal court. And Alan Alda, seeing the world as much more complicated, declines to do that." Maher proceeded to wonder: "Why can't we have a real Alan Alda character who says to the Christian Right what the Democrats basically say to the black people, which is, 'you know what? Where else are you going to go?'" See: www.mediaresearch.org

# October 11 CyberAlert: Only on fantasy television would anyone predict the New York Times would endorse a Republican presidential candidate, but that's what occurred on Sunday's episode of NBC's drama, The West Wing. On the October 9 show, the GOP nominee, California Senator "Arnie Vinick" (played by Alan Alda), lays out a series of proposals on immigration (such as doubling the border patrol), aimed to put his Hispanic Democratic opponent, Congressman "Matt Santos" (played by Jimmy Smits), in a box. In one scene, "Vinick" campaign advisor "Bruno Gianelli" (played by Ron Silver), a former campaign adviser to Democrats including the show's "President Bartlet," walks into a meeting and declares: "The New York Times loves your guest worker program. Think we might have a shot at an endorsement." At least another campaign staffer points out the naivete of the Democratic operative who has switched sides: "Kiss of death for a conservative." Sunday's episode also featured "Vinick," who is Hollywood's dream of an un-conservative Republican, going on a rant against the head of the "American Christian Assembly." See: www.mediaresearch.org

# April 6 CyberAlert: Hollywood' ideal Republican President, as brought to life two weeks ago by NBC's The West Wing, which has its season finale tonight (Wednesday), is "pro-choice," "pro-environment," will save the party from the "right wing," engineers a deal to raise the minimum wage and lectures about keeping religion out of politics. On the March 23 episode, a Democratic consultant told Republican presidential candidate, "Senator Arnold Vinick," played by Alan Alda, that he can win in a landslide because he's "moving the Republicans away from the right wing. You're not saying Democrats are not patriotic." After a pro-life Republican, who is so intolerant that he rejects Vinick's offer of the vice presidency, invites Vinick to join him in church, Vinick lectures a gaggle of reporters: "I don't see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government." See: www.mediaresearch.org

NBC's page for The West Wing: www.nbc.com

NBC's page for Alan Alda/Senator Arnold Vinick: www.nbc.com

NBC's page for Jimmy Smits/Congressman Matt Santos: www.nbc.com

"Top Ten Ways CBS News Can Attract Younger
Viewers"

From the November 3 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways CBS News Can Attract Younger Viewers." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. "Interviews start with, 'Sup, dawg?'"

9. "Once a month, Ashton Kutcher punks a world leader"

8. "Something bad happens in the world, anchor does a shot"

7. "Make '60 Minutes' stopwatch digital"

6. "Less about fighting in Middle East, more about fighting between Nick and Jessica"

5. "Spell news with a 'Z' -- The kids eat up crap like that"

4. "Get a drunk weatherman like 'The Today Show'

3. "Anyone who sits through an entire broadcast gets an Ipod"

2. "Anchor must deliver the news while fighting off a rattlesnake"

1. "Less frontin', more straight out trippin'"

-- Brent Baker