Meet the Press panel opined on Sen. Clinton poll, omitted mention of Rice's results

››› ››› SAM GILL

On Meet the Press, Tim Russert, along with a roundtable of reporters, speculated over the implications of a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that rated potential presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. However, not one reporter in the roundtable mentioned that the poll included Rice, much less that the difference between Rice's numbers and Clinton's fell within the margin of error.

During the January 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert, along with a roundtable of reporters, speculated over the implications of a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll (subscription required) that rated potential presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. However, neither Russert nor any of his guests -- Washington Post national political correspondent David S. Broder, NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, U.S. News & World Report chief political correspondent Roger Simon, and National Review White House correspondent Byron York -- once mentioned that the poll included Rice, much less, that the difference between Rice's numbers and Clinton's fell within the poll's margin of error.

Russert initiated the conversation by misleadingly reporting, "The Gallup poll went out this week about Hillary Clinton -- and drew a lot of comment around the country -- 'Would you vote for Hillary Clinton for president? Definitely: 16 percent. Maybe: 32 percent. Definitely not: 51 percent.' " The poll, labeled "Hillary/Condi Polarize Electorate," was -- as the label indicates -- not solely about "Hillary Clinton" but included results for a potential Rice candidacy as well. However, Russert did not mention any of Rice's numbers. As Media Matters for America has already reported, Rice's results were similar to Clinton's and within the poll's 3-percent margin of error: among registered voters, 14 percent said they would "definitely vote for" Rice, 38 percent said they "might consider voting for" her, and 46 percent said they would "definitely not vote for" her.

Not only did the panel neglect to mention the poll's head-to-head comparison, but one of its members falsely suggested that the poll was simply about a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy. Russert did not correct the false suggestion. "The problem with the poll is that elections are always one candidate vs. the other candidate," York said. "So, this is just kind of a generic question hanging out there."

Moreover, O'Donnell pre-empted any discussion of Rice's candidacy by simply asserting that Rice does not want to run: "I think if he [President Bush] could get Condoleezza Rice to run, he'd be happy about that, but we know where she stands on it."

From the January 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:

RUSSERT: Let me turn to the race for the White House. You heard [Senate Majority Leader] Senator [Bill] Frist [R-TN] suggest that he's considering running for president. The [CNN/USA Today/]Gallup poll went out this week about Hillary Clinton -- and drew a lot of comment around the country -- "Would you vote for Hillary Clinton for president? Definitely: 16 percent. Maybe: 32 percent. Definitely not: 51 percent." Does that tell us anything at this point of the race, David?

BRODER: Well, it tells us she carries a lot of baggage if she decides to run for -- for president. She's become a very adept politician, as you know, and so I don't discount her potential. But, she doesn't start at the same place as everybody else does. People have an opinion about her and about her husband that they will bring into the race with her.

O'DONNELL: She's always had high negatives.

SIMON: Right. But you can look at the same poll, if you are Hillary Clinton, and say, "If you take those who say they will vote for me and say -- take those who say they will consider voting for me, that's 48 percent. That's not a bad base to build upon two years and nine months before the presidential elections."

YORK: But the problem with the poll is that elections are always one candidate vs. the other candidate. So, this is just kind of a generic question hanging out there. Actually, I think the poll that showed her running -- was it 10 points? -- behind [Sen.] John McCain [R-AZ] was a little bit more interesting because you have two candidates with very high name recognition at this point.

[...]

RUSSERT: The president said the other day that this is a wide open race; the most wide open he's ever seen. Does he have any kind of wink, or nudge towards any Republicans?

O'DONNELL: Well, he was very careful because he knows that anything he says will influence the process. I think if he could get Condoleezza Rice to run, he'd be happy about that, but we know where she stands on it.

RUSSERT: Whoa! That's going to set the [web]blogs a running there, Kelly.

Network/Outlet
NBC
Show/Publication
Meet the Press
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, Polling, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.