AP's Sidoti spins latest Obama poll numbers really, really hard

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

More problems with the dismal AP report on the latest Obama polling numbers. CF already highlighted the article's bizarre and condescending use of the phrase "novice commander in chief" to describe the president. But the piece is also riddle with other problems.

Question: How many paragraphs does it take the AP's Liz Sidoti to report what Obama's latest job approval rating actually is?

Answer: Nine paragraphs.

That's sort of all you need to know about Sidoti's report, which paints an almost comically bleak picture of the political landscape that Obama now faces. (It's like Jimmy Carter-meets-Herbert Hoover.) Why is the nine-paragraph delay telling? Because if Obama's poll numbers had actually gone done, than that information would have been included very high in the AP dispatch; likely in the second or third paragraph.

But because Obama's (healthy) poll approval rating remained unchanged Sidoti needed nine paragraphs to properly spin the polling data before conceding that, oh yeah, Obama still enjoys a robust job approval rating of 54 percent. (i.e. It's a job approval rating that his direct predecessor likely did not enjoy for his entire second term.)

Meanwhile, this AP passage seems monumentally misguided [emphasis added]:

Now, Obama's approval rating stands at 54 percent, roughly the same as in October but very different from what it was in January just before he took office, 74 percent.

Honestly, was there a political reporter in America who thought that Obama's sky-high job approval rating back in January was real? Didn't everyone pretty much concede that that rating was artificially high and reflected the country's exuberance with electing a new president? (It was like when president Bush's approval ratings soared into the high 80's immediately following 9/11.) So if that Inauguration Day number for Obama wasn't real, why would reporters like Sidoti now point to it as a benchmark for how far Obama has supposedly fallen?

I'm curious, did Sidoti ever write about Bush's approval rating when it hit bottom in the low 30's by contrasting that with his post-9/11 numbers? I certainly doubt it, because everyone knew those 2001 numbers were artificially high. But today you see reporters like Sidoti who all the time point to Obama's Inauguration Day numbers and pretend it's newsworthy that his approval rating isn't what it was in January.

Bottom line: For decades inside the Beltway press corps, the operating rule for assessing monthly approval ratings for the president was simple: Did the numbers go up or down from the previous month? And if they moved significantly than that might be considered news. But under Obama, that approach has been ditched in favor of Sidoti's AP style which is, have Obama's approval ratings gone down from eight months ago?

Like we said, Sidoti spins these numbers really, really hard.

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