Inside Washington host Peterson ignored positive Clinton poll numbers

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

On Inside Washington, host Gordon Peterson claimed that Americans think Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is "too liberal," and "don't trust her," essentially misrepresenting the results of a May 15 ABC News/Washington Post poll on Clinton, a presumptive 2008 presidential candidate. A majority of those polled said Clinton is, in fact, "honest and trustworthy," while a minority thought she is "too liberal," with a majority saying her views are "about right."

On the June 3 broadcast of Inside Washington, a weekly news program on ABC's Washington, D.C., affiliate, WJLA, host Gordon Peterson, referring to a May 15 ABC News/Washington Post poll on presumptive 2008 presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), asked: "[W]hy would the Democrats nominate a candidate whose poll numbers indicate that 42 percent of all Americans say they would never vote for her?" Peterson added: "She's too liberal. They don't trust her. They think the Clintons carry too much baggage." But in claiming that "they" think Clinton is "too liberal" and "don't trust her," Peterson essentially misrepresented the results of the poll he cited -- a majority of those polled said Clinton is, in fact, "honest and trustworthy"; a minority thought she is "too liberal," while a majority said her views are "about right." Peterson also ignored the fact that a majority of respondents said they would either "definitely" vote for or "consider" voting for Clinton in 2008.

Peterson's treatment of the ABC News/Washington Post poll mirrored that of ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper, who, on the May 31 broadcast of ABC's World News Tonight, said: "A new ABC News poll shows a daunting 42 percent of all Americans say they'll never vote for her. Some think she's too liberal. Others think she's untrustworthy." As Media Matters for America noted at the time, according to the May 15 poll, 52 percent of those polled said that Clinton is honest and trustworthy, while 42 percent said she is not. And when the poll asked, "Do you think Hillary Clinton's views on most issues are too (liberal) for you, too (conservative) for you, or just about right?" a minority, 37 percent, said she is too liberal and 52 percent chose as their answer that her views on most issues are "about right." Further, 57 percent of the poll's respondents said they would either definitely vote for (19 percent) or consider voting for (38 percent) Clinton for president in 2008.

From the June 3 broadcast of WJLA's Inside Washington:

PETERSON: Senator Hillary Clinton accepting her party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in Buffalo, New York. But that's not the end of the story, is it? Here, former New York Mayor Ed Koch.

KOCH [video clip]: Everybody agrees that she will be the Democratic candidate and that that's not in question.

PETERSON: Well, why would the Democrats nominate a candidate whose poll numbers indicate that 42 percent of all Americans say they would never vote for her? She's too liberal. They don't trust her. They think the Clintons carry too much baggage. Why, Nina?

NINA TOTENBERG (National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent): I don't know, but they don't have another person, is the truth. At least so far. And I think, you know, the conventional wisdom is that she has the nomination, but conventional wisdom has, on occasion, been wrong.

PETERSON: But how many candidates are there out there, potential candidates, who are identifiable by their first name only?

TOTENBERG: Nobody.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER (Washington Post columnist): Cher.

PETERSON: She's not a candidate.

KRAUTHAMMER: She could be. Look, its nepotism. It's for the same reason that our current president was way ahead in the polls in 1999 and 2000, even though he'd had a fairly undistinguished history as a two-term governor. His name was George Bush. Her name is Clinton. And we put a lot of emphasis, as we did with Teddy Kennedy on the association -- the family association of our leaders. So, that's why she's way ahead.

EVAN THOMAS (Newsweek magazine assistant managing editor): I think there's -- discouraging about this. This could be a great time for the Democrats to be fresh. I mean, the Republicans are tired and they're -- they're dying out. This could be a great moment for the Democratic Party to show something new. And Hillary, it's just -- there's nothing new about her.

Network/Outlet
ABC
Show/Publication
Inside Washington
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, Polling, 2008 Elections
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