On the November 27 broadcast of NBC's syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, MSNBC chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell claimed that President Bush -- despite decreased public support for his policies, including the Iraq war -- has retained his “authenticity” with the public. O'Donnell provided no support for her assertion. In fact, recent polling by major media outlets, such as ABC News/Washington Post and Associated Press-Ipsos, shows that a majority of Americans thinks Bush is not honest. A November 8-13 Harris Poll indicated that, by a margin of 64 percent to 32 percent, Americans think the Bush administration “mislead[s] the public on current issues to achieve their own end.”
During a discussion about potential 2008 presidential candidates, O'Donnell said, “I think one of the most important things ... is authenticity.” She then attributed the unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) to a lack of it. O'Donnell continued, “And as much as people may disagree with President Bush about the war, many other things, what he does have, to some degree, is authenticity.”
But the most recent polling available on the question of authenticity suggests otherwise. A November 2 ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 58 percent of adults reported that the phrases “He is honest and trustworthy” and “He shares your values” do not apply to Bush. And an Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted November 7-9 found that, while 82 percent of adults said the word “stubborn” applied to Bush, only 42 percent said “honest” did. That same poll found that 57 percent do not regard him as honest.
As Media Matters for America previously noted, O'Donnell made a similar claim on a September 4 broadcast of The Chris Matthews Show: In the midst of criticism over the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, she observed that Bush “thrives on being a crisis manager.”
From the November 27 broadcast of NBC's The Chris Matthews Show:
O'DONNELL: I think one of the most important things, if the election were held today, is authenticity. And that was Kerry's problem -- was authenticity. And as much as people may disagree with President Bush about the war, many other things, he does have, to some degree, authenticity. And that's why, on the Republican side, Senator [John] McCain [R-AZ] looks like a hot guy. Authenticity matters. And that's a big problem, I think, for Senator [Hillary Rodham] Clinton [D-NY] too, if you talk about -- people don't know if she's the old Hillary or the new Hillary.