CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and NBC touted USA Today/Gallup poll with Bush approval rating at 44 percent, ignored earlier Pew poll placing his approval at 37 percent

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

Many television news outlets touted a USA Today/Gallup poll putting President Bush's job approval rating at 44 percent as a success for Bush, asserting that his rating is "the highest it's been in a year." But four days earlier, the same news organizations ignored a Pew Research Center poll showing Bush's approval rating at 37 percent.

On September 19, USA Today/Gallup released a poll which found that 44 percent of respondents said they approve of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president of the United States; the results represented a five-percentage-point increase in Bush's approval rating from the previous USA Today/Gallup poll. Throughout the day on September 19, many television news outlets -- such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and NBC -- touted the poll as a success for Bush, describing Bush's "bounce" in the poll as "good news," asserting that his rating is "the highest it's been in a year," claiming the poll is "bolstering GOP spirits and rattling Democrats" while illustrating that Bush is "gaining in popularity" with the American public, and stating that the poll demonstrates how Bush "has rebounded." Overall, on September 19, CNN referred to the USA Today/Gallup poll nine times, Fox News seven times, and MSNBC and NBC together five times. But on September 14, four days before the release of the USA Today/Gallup poll, all four news organizations completely ignored a Pew Research Center poll released that day showing Bush's approval rating at 37 percent, unchanged from Pew's previous poll and the lowest of all polls conducted within the last month.*

CNN

Throughout the day on September 19, CNN mentioned Bush's 44 percent approval rating in the USA Today/Gallup poll nine times. CNN anchor Carol Costello said the poll is "[g]ood news for President Bush," while anchors Heidi Collins and Kyra Phillips noted the poll rating was a "bounce for [] Bush." Phillips mentioned "other polls" with "lower numbers," but did not mention Pew's most recent poll. Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer cited the USA Today/Gallup poll as showing "new political gains" for Bush.

From the September 19 edition of CNN's American Morning:

MILES O'BRIEN (co-host): President Bush getting a bounce in the polls today, the latest USA Today/Gallup poll shows his approval rating at 44 percent, the highest level in the year.

[...]

COSTELLO: Good news for President Bush. A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows the president's approval rating is up to 44 percent. That is the highest it's been in a year. It's also a five-point jump in just the last month.

From the 10 a.m. ET segment of the September 19 edition of CNN's Newsroom:

COLLINS: Ahead of his speech at the U.N., a bit of a bounce for President Bush. It comes in a new USA Today/Gallup poll. Forty-four percent of respondents say they approve of the way the president is handling this job. Fifty-one percent disapprove. The approval rating up five percentage points from earlier this month.

From the 1 p.m. ET segment of the September 19 edition of CNN's Newsroom:

PHILLIPS: Well, post-9-11 poll bounce for President Bush. Forty-four percent of respondents in a USA Today/Gallup poll say they approve of Mr. Bush's performance in office. Fifty-one percent disapprove. The approval rating is up five percentage points from earlier this month, and for the first time in nine months, a clear majority did not say the war in Iraq was a mistake. Respondents now are evenly split on that issue, at 49 percent. Asked whether the president does or does not have a clear plan for handling Iraq, 36 percent said he does, 61 percent said he doesn't.

Other polls, lower numbers. A Fox News poll taken days before the USA Today/Gallup survey shows that Bush's approval rating at 40 percent. A recent AP/Ipsos poll puts it at 39 percent, and that averages out to 41 percent, still a bit higher than in earlier polls.

From the September 19 edition of CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: New political gains for President Bush, seven weeks before congressional elections -- check it out. The new USA Today/Gallup poll shows his approval rating now up to 44 percent. That's his highest rating in a year. When the three latest polls are averaged together, Mr. Bush gets a 41 percent approval rating.

[...]

BLITZER: New political gains for the president. Today, seven weeks before congressional elections, the new "USA Today"-Gallup poll shows his approval rating up to 44 percent. That's his highest rating in a year. When the three latest polls are averaged together, Mr. Bush gets a 41 percent approval rating.

From the September 19 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

DOBBS: A new opinion poll shows President Bush's approval rating is rising but a majority of voters still disapprove of his performance. The new USA Today/Gallup poll shows the president's approval rating has risen to 44 percent. One reason for the president's improved numbers may be that voters don't believe Democrats have offered a credible alternative to the president's policies. Separately, the poll says Democrats and Republicans are neck-and-neck in the race to win seats in Congress. Both parties rated in the survey by 48 percent.

From the September 19 edition of CNN's Larry King Live:

KING: Wolf, a new USA Today/Gallup poll shows Bush's approval rating up to 44 percent, the largest rating in a year. There you see it on the screen. Why the rebound?

BLITZER: I think in part because of the fifth anniversary of 9-11, the war on terrorism. This has always been, since then, a very strong issue for the president, for the Republicans. I think that helped him.

From the September 19 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

ROBERTS: So, is there any good news for President Bush? Well, yes. Americans appear to be buying into his recent focus on the dangers of terrorism. A new USA Today/Gallup poll found his approval rating has popped at 44 percent now. After hitting rock bottom in the low 30s, it is just about where Republican strategists hoped he would be at this point in the election year.

Fox News

Fox News hosts and anchors mentioned Bush's approval rating in the USA Today poll seven times throughout the day on September 19. Despite the fact that the poll still showed that less than half of all Americans support President Bush, Special Report host Brit Hume introduced a segment about the poll by claiming that "[t]he Bush administration awoke today to some of the best political news it has had in a year." Big Story host John Gibson claimed that the poll illustrates that Bush has "been getting pretty good grades lately with the American people," while Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reported that the new poll is "bolstering GOP spirits and rattling Democrats."

From the September 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: But if you read the Gallup poll today, good news for the president of the United States He's got his best approval numbers in a year. He's up to 44 percent.

From the September 19 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: The President's poll numbers are up a little bit but they are still pretty low at 44 percent. What is giving him the pick up, just these incidents or just, you know, the post-9-11 bounce?

From the September 19 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:

GIBSON: Now the big politics story. It's not clear yet whether President Bush won over world leaders at the U.N. today, but he's been getting pretty good grades lately with the American people. According to a brand-new poll, the president's job approval rating has risen to 44 percent. That's his highest rating in a year.

From the September 19 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

HUME: The Bush administration awoke today to some of the best political news it has had in a year. A striking new Gallup poll confirms an upward trend in the president's approval numbers. And what's more, Republicans in this poll are now tied with the Democrats in the so-called generic ballot question, which is one about which political party a voter would prefer congressional elections in November. That is a poll in which Republicans have trailed, in some cases, badly, since early last year. Chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reports.

CAMERON: President Bush's U.N. speech comes with his popularity in the polls at its highest point in months. Exactly seven weeks until the midterm elections and Mr. Bush's job approval has rebounded, bolstering GOP spirits and rattling Democrats. The latest Gallup poll shows the president's approval rating at 44 percent, a five point jump from last month, to the highest level since this time last year.

[...]

HUME: Back with our panel. Let's take a look at a couple of poll numbers. The one that struck everybody today, of course, was this new Gallup poll which was out, and it showed the president's job approval up, there you see it, up to 44 percent. Now, 44 percent may seem anemic, but it is way better than the president had been doing in this poll and better than he's been doing in many other polls, although the general trend in the polls has been in his direction.

From the September 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: But that's an optimistic viewpoint. A new Gallup poll out today says 44 percent of the Americans approve of the president. That's up a bit. But still the majority of Americans do not.

From the September 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: There you have it, just 49 short days left until Americans take to the polls. And the latest USA Today/Gallup poll says that the president and his party may be getting a boost. After a week of falling gas prices, a series of speeches on the war on terror, President Bush's approval rating has risen to 44 percent. By the way, that's his highest rating in a year.

MSNBC/NBC

MSNBC and NBC mentioned the USA Today/Gallup poll five times collectively. Referring to the poll on the September 19 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer asked New York Times columnist Frank Rich: "Why is [Bush] gaining in popularity?" On MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson said the poll shows that "the president does seem to be having some success with the American people."

From the September 19 edition of NBC's Today:

LAUER: Just curious about your take on something. At the most recent poll I've seen on the president's approval ratings out today -- USA Today poll, I believe -- has him up to 44 percent, up 13 percent from May. Why is he gaining in popularity?

From the September 19 edition of MSNBC's Imus In the Morning:

CHARLES McCORD (co-host): According to the latest Gallup poll, Mr. Bush's approval rating jumped five points from 39 percent earlier this month to 44 percent in the most recent Gallup survey and that is the highest approval rating the president has seen in a year.

From the 9 a.m. ET segment of the September 19 edition of MSNBC News Live:

AMY ROBACH (anchor): The latest USA Today/Gallup poll finds 44 percent of Americans now approve of the job the president is doing, 51 percent disapprove. Now, the president's approval rating in this poll is up five points from just last week. The last time the president's job approval got above 44 percent was in September of 2005.

From the 10 a.m. ET segment of the September 19 edition of MSNBC News Live:

CHRIS JANSING (anchor): President Bush woke up this morning to some good news from USA Today. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll shows his approval rating has rebounded, now at 44 percent, the highest level in a year. President Bush has seen similar upticks in other polls.

From the September 19 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:

CARLSON: No word yet on what the people of Iran thought of the speech, but the president does seem to be having some success with the American people. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll shows a bump in his approval rating. It is now up to 44 percent. That sounds low, but it's Bush's highest in a year.

* Media Matters for America conducted an "News all" Lexis/Nexis search for "pew or approval or poll w/30 bush" on 9/14/06 and 9/15/06; Media Matters' video archives were also searched.

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