CBS Evening News Ignores Own Poll Finding on Bush Leading Kerry --3/16/2004
2. CBS Skips Hard-Left Agenda of Anti-War Protest It Publicizes
3. Stress Defeat for Bush in Spain Over Victory for Terrorists
When a CBS News poll found John Kerry leading George W. Bush by 48 to 43 percent amongst registered voters, Dan Rather reported it on the February 16 CBS Evening News, and when another CBS News poll two weeks ago put Kerry up by a mere one point over Bush, by 47 to 46 percent with registered voters, the February 28 CBS Evening News highlighted the finding. But on Monday, while the CBSNews.com home page, for much of the afternoon and into the evening featured the results of a new CBS News/New York Times poll, with a headline which declared, "Bush Moves Ahead of Kerry," the CBS Evening News didn't utter a word about the new numbers which put Bush up over Kerry by 46 to 43 percent with registered voters.
Two weeks ago, the CBS Evening News emphasized how Bush's approval rating had fallen below 50 percent, but the new poll found his approval rating back above 50 percent -- but that too went unmentioned Monday night.
The March 15 CBS Evening News, however, had time for full stories on a small anti-war protest outside the White House by family members of those in the military (see item #2 below) and how the Bush administration supposedly gagged an official from telling the true cost of the Medicare prescription drug entitlement program. "Families of some of the American casualties of the war reached out to President Bush today," Dan Rather reported, "asking him to bring U.S. troops home." Rather soon introduced another story: "In an election year battle over the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, the Bush administration is now being accused of trying to sell the program to the public in a very misleading way. And CBS's John Roberts also has new details tonight of allegations that the administration deliberately misled Congress to get the kind of Medicare overhaul the President wanted."
On Tuesday morning, CBS's The Early Show reported how the CBS News/New York Times survey placed Bush ahead of Kerry, but not until the 8am newscast an hour into the two-hour morning show.
[Web Update: Tuesday's CBS Evening News continued to avoid the Bush vs. Kerry poll numbers, though the March 16 newscast did carry a campaign piece by Bill Plante about Kerry and Bush trading "punches" as Bush challenged Kerry to name the foreign leaders who prefer him and Kerry charged Bush with causing a lack of respect in the world for the U.S.]
"Nation's Direction Prompts Voters' Concern, Poll Finds," announced the headline over the Tuesday New York Times article by Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder, which began: "George Bush and John Kerry enter the general election at a time of growing concern among Americans that the nation is veering in the wrong direction, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows. Mr. Bush faces unrest over his management of the economy, while the public has doubts about Mr. Kerry's political convictions."
Not until the eighth paragraph did Nagourney and Elder get to the head-to-head result, though they contended it showed a tie: "The Times/CBS News poll offered the latest evidence that the race for President was as tight as has long been predicted. Even after two weeks in which Mr. Bush has run televised advertisements promoting himself and attacking Mr. Kerry, and in which Mr. Kerry has enjoyed the glow of favorable coverage that greeted his near-sweep of Democratic primaries, the two men are effectively tied, with 46 percent of voters saying they supported Mr. Bush and 43 percent backing Mr. Kerry."
For the March 16 New York Times story in full: www.nytimes.com
The posting ran through the findings in the poll, including:
-- KERRY VS. BUSH: CHOICE IN NOVEMBER
-- VIEWS OF THE CANDIDATES
-- THE PRESIDENT'S JOB APPROVAL RATINGS
For the CBSNews.com rundown of the CBS News/New York Times poll, see: www.cbsnews.com
Anchor Russ Mitchell announced on the Saturday, February 28 CBS Evening News: "A new CBS News out poll out tonight, poll out tonight, rather, puts President Bush's job approval below 50 percent for the first time. From an Iraq war high of 73 percent last April, the President's rating has dropped steadily with the exception of a bump after the capture of Hussein to 47 percent now, an all-time low. As Randall Pinkston tells us, the poll has other promising numbers for the President's Democratic challengers."
Pinkston explained: "Gearing up for the biggest batch of votes of the primary season, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry campaigned in California while North Carolina Senator John Edwards stumped in Georgia. While he trails Kerry in delegates, there was promising news for Edwards in a new CBS News poll of likely voters."
On screen, CBS put the faces of the candidates inside graphic circles meant to mimic campaign buttons as they cycled through the match-ups recited by Pinkston: "If the election were held today, Edwards would tie President Bush. Kerry would beat the President by one percent, but if Kerry and Edwards were on the same ticket, they would beat the Bush/Cheney team by eight points."
The specific numbers: Edwards 45 percent vs. George W. Bush 45 percent; John Kerry 47 percent vs. George W. Bush 46 percent; Kerry/Edwards 50 percent vs. Bush/Cheney 42 percent.
That 46 to 45 split was well within the poll's three-point margin of error.
For the CBSNews.com posting of the results of that survey: www.cbsnews.com
An on-screen graphic filled in the numbers with Kerry having a 48 to 43 percent lead over Bush. For the CBSNews.com posting of the complete findings: www.cbsnews.com
A small anti-war protest march by barely 200 people across the street from the White House generated a full CBS Evening News story on Monday night in which reporter Bob Orr ignored the far-left political agenda of the participants as he emphasized how they were just typical relatives of those in the military: "These protesters -- mothers, fathers, husbands and wives -- read the roll of America's dead, placing the names of their loved ones in a makeshift coffin." Orr featured an interview with one father in which Orr stressed how he was pro-war at one time: "You weren't against the war at the outset?" Father: "No, not at all." And Orr painted them all as potential victims of the right-wing thought police: "Now, at the risk of having their own patriotism questioned, families say they're mounting a critical home front mission."
Skipped over by Orr, the political agenda of the leftist groups which organized the protest. The home page of a group called "Military Families Speak Out," a representative of which Orr quoted, features a politically-loaded screed, in the form of a letter to President Bush, from a mother whose son was killed in Iraq:
Rather set up the March 15 story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Families of some of the American casualties of the war reached out to President Bush today, asking him to bring U.S. troops home. CBS's Bob Orr reports the families marched from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where severely-wounded soldiers are treated, to the White House."
Orr began: "They marched silently in a somber procession carrying black wreathes to commemorate those lost in a war they no longer support. Outside the White House, these protesters -- mothers, fathers, husbands and wives -- read the roll of America's dead, placing the names of their loved ones in a makeshift coffin. One of the names belonged to Lila Lipscomb's son, Michael Pedersen, killed last April when his helicopter went down in a firefight....While military families rarely speak out, these protesters accuse the President of trying to sanitize the war by declining to attend a single military funeral and by preventing the public from doing flag-draped coffins as they are returned to the US. Parents of some of the 3000 plus wounded have also had enough. Pat and Jerome Gunn's son, Jason, survived a roadside bomb last November. While he's still recovering from shrapnel wounds, Jason's now been ordered back to Iraq. You weren't against the war at the outset?"
The home page for Military Families Speak Out features an angry, politically-charged from the left, letter to Bush from Rosemarie Dietz Slavenas. An excerpt:
....You inherited peace and prosperity and created murder, mayhem, and massive debt. According to the ongoing investigation of the helicopter crash that took Brian's and 15 other American lives, the Illinois National Guard aircraft were sent into the field without basic survivability equipment, to accommodate your "shoot and bomb first, think and investigate later" brand of foreign policy. We don't need a trigger happy President.
Finders keepers, losers weepers. While we who have lost our loved ones have only tears to fill the empty space where love and laughter lived, you and your Halliburton cronies have found the oil wells and will undoubtedly keep your blood stained gains. Our sorrow, your gain. Brian was conscientious; someone wasn't. Brian was faithful; someone wasn't. Brian was thoughtful; someone wasn't. Brian was considerate; someone wasn't. Brian was truthful; someone isn't. Brian wasn't sloppy. Someone is.
END of Excerpt
Web site for Military Families Speak Out: www.mfso.org
The victory by the socialists in Spain in Sunday over the ruling party which was in alliance with President Bush in the war on terror is undoubtedly bad news for the Bush administration, but coming just days after deadly terrorist attacks which evidence links to al-Qaeda, it also represents a victory for the terrorists and may encourage more such attacks shortly before elections in democratic nations.
But the networks chose to emphasize the bad news for Bush over the good news for terrorists, getting to the point about how it was good for terrorism only late in stories, if at all.
And in all the broadcast network stories and analysis, none addressed a seeming contradiction of the Spanish socialists and others pleased by the rejection of a Bush ally, such as liberals in the United States: The socialist candidate for Prime Minister opposed having Spanish troops in Iraq and blamed their presence for bringing terrorism to Spain, but if Iraq is a diversion from the war on terror, how could having Western troops there generate terrorism elsewhere?
In the evening, ABC's Peter Jennings called it "a major blow to the Bush administration" before Martha Raddatz suggested how Spanish "voters clearly believed that last week's gruesome train bombings were a response to Spain's support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq." CBS's Dan Rather stressed how the vote "was also a defeat for President Bush" and NBC's Dawna Friesen explained: "Behind the stunned silence of people here is anger, a belief that this happened because Spain's government supported the war in Iraq and that turned this country into a target for terrorists."
The networks probably took their cue from a March 15 New York Times front page "news analysis" by David Sanger, headlined, "Blow to Bush: An Ally in Spain Is Rejected by Antiwar Voters" See: www.nytimes.com
More on March 15 coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC:
-- ABC's Good Morning America. Dan Harris led the program, the MRC's Jessica Anderson noticed: "The question this morning, is support for the U.S. occupation in Iraq dwindling among our allies in Europe? Spain says it will withdraw its troops from Iraq by this summer. ABC's Charles Glass has the latest now from Madrid."
-- CBS's Early Show. Allen Pizzey asserted from Madrid in his lead story: "The overthrow of the right-wing Popular Party is being called a surprise and punishment for its unswerving alliance with Washington."
Julie Chen set up the second story of the morning: "Meanwhile, the attacks in Spain have added fuel to the already raging political debate here at home over the war on terror. CBS News correspondent Bill Plante is at the White House with more. Good morning, Bill."
Plante began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "Good morning, Julie. It's bad news for the administration. Mr. Bush had gone out of his way to praise Spain's former Prime Minister for supporting the war against the opposition of so many in his country. And Spain's presence in Iraq was an important if symbolic member of the coalition....The withdraw of Spain's troops from Iraq will not have a large impact on operations, but it will make a large dent in the appearance of a cohesive coalition. Spain had only 1,300 troops in Iraq but President Bush had counted former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as a key supporter for the war.
After soundbites from Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld, Plante concluded by hinting about how the terrorists won: "But the danger now after the Spanish attack is the perception in many parts of the world that it worked and drove the U.S. allies out. That is something that this administration will now have to deal with."
-- NBC's Today. Co-host Campbell Brown, the MRC's Geoff Dickens observed, intoned: "The Spanish elections are seen as a blow to the U.S. and to President Bush. The incoming Prime Minister is vowing to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq. And many are looking at this as retaliation for their involvement in the first place. Stunning also because Prime Minister Aznar's party was ahead in the polls just prior to those bombings, so a dramatic turnaround here."
News reader Natalie Morales set up a story: "A huge political upset in Spain just days after terrorists killed 200 people. The government there is voted out of office. NBC's Tom Costello is in Madrid with more. Tom, good morning."
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings teased up top: "On World News Tonight, the Spanish Prime Minister says the occupation of Iraq is a disaster and threatens to pull Spanish troops out of the U.S.-led coalition. A major blow to the Bush administration."
Martha Raddatz soon reported: "Across Spain, massive rallies celebrated victory and change. Voters clearly believed that last week's gruesome train bombings were a response to Spain's support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Today the new Prime Minister, Jose Louis Rodriguez Zapatero, promised, as he did during his campaign, that the Spanish troops in Iraq would now be coming home...." Raddatz concluded: "Some administration officials say this is a victory for terrorists, not a defeat for George Bush. But, Peter, those who are responsible for the attacks likely see it both ways."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather touted: "It was also a defeat for President Bush because, as CBS's Allen Pizzey reports, the incoming socialist Prime Minister says he's ready to make good on a campaign promise."
Pizzey, in Madrid, ran through Zapatero's anti-Bush comments before outlining how "the pledge to pull the troops out was part of election campaigning even before the train bombings, but there is concern that doing it now will be seen as giving into terrorism, which is not what people here want. Voters rebelled because many saw an attempt by the government to hide evidence that al-Qaeda was behind last week's train bombings, which some experts say was the first time a terrorist attack has brought down a Western government."
-- NBC Nightly News. From Madrid, Dawna Friesen related: "Behind the stunned silence of people here is anger, a belief that this happened because Spain's government supported the war in Iraq and that turned this country into a target for terrorists." Friesen also noted: "Italy is urging travelers to be vigilant. Although its government supported the war, one newspaper declared today: 'Madrid is the proof that Bush was wrong.'"
From the White House, David Gregory asserted: "For the President it was a major blow, forced to watch one of his closest allies pay a steep price for supporting the U.S. decision to invade Iraq..." Gregory, however, also passed along White House concerns: "U.S. officials worry the Spanish election has sent a message of comfort to al-Qaeda, something the President said last Friday a vote for Prime Minister Aznar's party would not have done."
# ABC's John Stossel is scheduled to appear tonight, Tuesday, on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
-- Brent Baker