NBC Hypes 'Damage' to GOP in Shutdown, Ignores Obama Approval at 37 Percent

Wrapping up a report on the government shutdown for Thursday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander eagerly promoted negative political fallout for Republicans: "Both parties are taking a hit in their approval ratings as a result these days. But the damage to the Republican brand appears to be proving to be much worse. A new Gallup poll...shows only 28% of Americans say they have a favorable view of the Republican Party, that's the lowest number since they began asking that question twenty-one years ago." [Listen to the audio]

What Alexander didn't bother to mention was an Associated Press poll that showed President Obama's approval rating having dropped to 37%, with disapproval at 53%. Following Alexander's report, co-host Matt Lauer made a feeble attempt to provide balance to the slanted coverage: "No picnic in that [Gallup] poll for the Democratic Party either, but the Republicans seem to be taking the bigger hit at the moment." Again, no mention of Obama's low approval rating.  

Fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie chimed in: "Then I saw a poll recently that Congress's approval rating is now at 5%. Which makes you wonder, who is that 5%?" Lauer added: "Yeah, all-time low."

While NBC censored news of Obama's approval rating slipping to 37%, when an AP poll found George W. Bush's approval hit the same number in March of 2006, anchor Brian Williams led NBC Nightly News with it.

In addition to selectively reporting the poll data, Alexander also derided congressional Republicans who accurately pointed out that not raising the nation's debt limit wouldn't necessarily result in a default:

ALEXANDER: President Obama warned of economic turmoil if the U.S. doesn't cover its debts.

BARACK OBAMA: The financial markets can't even imagine that we would get to a point when we wouldn't be paying our bills.

ALEXANDER: Still, a group of hardcore Republicans, who some dub the "debt limit deniers," insist the President is exaggerating the impact.

SEN. RAND PAUL [R-KY]: I'm not advocating we go through the debt ceiling deadline. But what I am saying is, if you go through it you will not default.

REP. TED YOHO [R-FL]: Hitting the debt ceiling does not equal default.

ALEXANDER: Most federal budget experts call that talk dangerous.

In an interview with CNBC on October 6, the CEO of Moody's credit rating agency, Raymond McDaniel, explained that default was "extremely unlikely," noting: "Hopefully it is unlikely that we go past October 17 and fail to raise the debt ceiling, but even if that does happen, then we think that the U.S. Treasury is still going to pay on those Treasury securities." Thus avoiding a technical default on the debt.

Here is a full transcript of Alexander's October 10 report on Today:

7:09AM ET

GUTHRIE: Let's hope that some progress is made in Washington later today when House Republicans sit down with President Obama for a meeting they say they have been waiting for. NBC's Peter Alexander is live at the White House with more on this. Peter, good morning.  

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Warning: Cliff Ahead; Government Default Deadline Approaches]

PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, good morning to you. There are some possible short-term solutions floating out there. But just consider the intensity of the stalemate. Ahead of this meeting here at the White House this afternoon, the President and Republican leaders couldn't even agree on a guest list. President Obama inviting all 232 House Republicans, but Speaker John Boehner insisting only 18 will come.

How dysfunctional is D.C.? Even the invite list for this afternoon's White House meeting required negotiations. With the U.S. barreling toward its borrowing limit, the so-called debt ceiling deadline now exactly one week away, there are few signs of real progress. House Democrats huddling with the President late Wednesday.

REP. NANCY PELOSI [D-CA]: The debt ceiling needs to be lifted.

ALEXANDER: Among the glimmers of hope, some Republicans are said to be weighing their willingness to accept a short-term debt limit deal. And several top Republicans have publicly  shifted their focus away from gutting the President's health care law.

In an interview with NBC affiliate WRC, President Obama warned of economic turmoil if the U.S. doesn't cover its debts.

BARACK OBAMA: The financial markets can't even imagine that we would get to a point when we wouldn't be paying our bills.

ALEXANDER: Still, a group of hardcore Republicans, who some dub the "debt limit deniers," insist the President is exaggerating the impact.

SEN. RAND PAUL [R-KY]: I'm not advocating we go through the debt ceiling deadline. But what I am saying is, if you go through it you will not default.

REP. TED YOHO [R-FL]: Hitting the debt ceiling does not equal default.

ALEXANDER: Most federal budget experts call that talk dangerous.

STAN COLLENDER [FEDERAL BUDGET EXPERT, @THEBUDGETGUY]: This is the equivalent of saying, you know, let's just push the button on a nuclear bomb and see what happens after it goes off.

ALEXANDER: Still, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who spearheaded his party's opposition to ObamaCare, is touting the strategy as a success. The Tea Party Republican telling People magazine he opposes the shutdown, but adding, "I think we have accomplished a great deal already. We have elevated the debate nationally."

Both parties are taking a hit in their approval ratings as a result these days. But the damage to the Republican brand appears to be proving to be much worse. A new Gallup poll, Matt and Savannah, shows only 28% of Americans say they have a favorable view of the Republican Party, that's the lowest number since they began asking that question twenty-one years ago.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Peter Alexander at the White House, thank you so much.

MATT LAUER: No picnic in that poll for the Democratic Party either, but the Republicans seem to be taking the bigger hit at the moment.

GUTHRIE: Then I saw a poll recently that Congress's approval rating is now at 5%. Which makes you wonder, who is that 5%?

LAUER: Yeah, all-time low.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.