Times Watch for June 29, 2004
Burying the Bush Rebound
Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder"s latest poll story, "Bush"s Rating Falls To Its Lowest Point, New Survey Finds," makes the front page on a busy news day, and no wonder. From the beginning, it reads as if the joint NYT/CBS poll the story"s based on finds nothing but bad news for Bush: "President Bush"s job approval rating has fallen to the lowest level of his presidency, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The poll found Americans stiffening their opposition to the Iraq war, worried that the invasion could invite domestic terrorist attacks and skeptical about whether the White House has been fully truthful about the war or about abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison."
But the Times buries the lead. Not until the 11th paragraph does it point out the new head-to-head Bush-Kerry figures: "Nationwide, Mr. Kerry has the support of 45 percent of registered voters, with Mr. Bush supported by 44 percent." With Ralph Nader put into the mix, Bush is up 43-42.
Two paragraphs later, the Times notes: "A CBS News poll taken last month found Mr. Kerry with a lead of 49 percent to 41 percent over Mr. Bush."
In other words, Bush has gained a substantial amount of ground on Kerry since last month, perhaps due to the Reagan funeral and the imminent handover of power in Iraq. But the Times never points out the fact-one has to infer it.
The MRC"s Brent Baker has more on the NYT burying key pro-Bush findings from its own poll.
" Campaign 2004 | Janet Elder | Adam Nagourney | Polls
Sanger Still Singing Blues on Bush and Iraq
Reporter David Sanger never hides his doubts about Bush going to war in Iraq, and the handover of Iraqi sovereignty gives him a prominent platform to vent them again. In "Fresh Starts: One for Iraq, One for Bush," Sanger"s front-page analysis of the handover, he sniffs: "If Mr. Bush's accomplishments in Iraq are judged on the events of the past 14 months, he has clearly succeeded in only one of his tasks: dismantling a tyrannical government. The so-far fruitless search for unconventional weapons"the primary justification for invading Iraq-undermined his credibility, making what Mr. Bush described as a war of necessity appear to have been one of choice."
Overthrowing Saddam Hussein and liberating a country"big deal!
Sanger later writes: "Bush begins a summer of hopscotching the country facing a nation of doubters" before referring to the NYT/CBS poll showing people think the war has not been worth the loss of life.
Making the not exactly novel observation that things haven"t gone perfectly well in Iraq, Sanger notes: "In retrospect, Mr. Bush's challenge [when Bush said of Iraqi terror fighters, "bring then on"] was uttered just as events were beginning to spin out of control."
Sanger concludes by (you guessed it) comparing Iraq with Vietnam: "Now Mr. Bush is staking his presidency, and history's judgment, on the American experiment in Iraq, on the bet that Iraqis will feel as if the occupation has really ended, and that together he and the new government can avoid their own Tet."
" George W. Bush | Iraq Sovereignty | Iraq War | David Sanger | Vietnam
Iraqi Sovereignty and"U.S. Fatalities
Along with the rest of the papers, the Times plays catch up on yesterday morning"s big story, the early handoff of sovereignty in Iraq. "U.S. Transfers Power to Iraq 2 Days Early" reads the banner headline to Dexter Filkins" lead (right below a banner headline for a story the Times apparently considers just as important, a Bush court defeat: "Justices Affirm Legal Rights of 'Enemy Combatants'").
The story takes care to shoehorn in the U.S. death toll, resulting in this awkward construction: "With more than 800 American servicemen and women dead 15 months after he ordered the invasion, Mr. Bush said the transfer of formal sovereignty would undercut the insurgents' hopes of rallying the Iraqi people."
" Casualties | Dexter Filkins | Iraq War | Iraq Sovereignty
Hitler Reappears in Bush Ad?
The Kerry campaign complains about a Bush campaign ad, and reporter David Sanger jumps on it. Saturday"s story from Sanger runs under the headline, "Hitler Reappears in '04 Campaign, This Time in Bush Ad." You have to read the article to realize the Hitler image first appeared in an anti-Bush ad from a left-wing group and that the Bush ad is merely running clips from it.
The "controversy" begin when the Bush campaign posted an ad on its website featuring clips of vitriolic attacks on Bush from Al Gore and Rep. Richard Gephardt, and also ran excerpts of a scurrilous MoveOn.org ad that compared Bush to Hitler.
Kerry"s campaign, in a fundraising letter, took the rather, shall we say, unusual step of blaming the Bush campaign for running excerpts from an anti-Bush ad.
Sanger takes the bait. First, he tries to distance the liberal group that aired the ad from the ad itself. Then he blames Bush, not MoveOn.org, for making a Hitler comparison: "MoveOn.org quickly removed the advertisement from its site. But it resurfaces in the Bush-Cheney campaign's compendium of clips, and the result appears to link Mr. Gore's and Mr. Dean's shouting to Hitler's. Mary Beth Cahill, Mr. Kerry's campaign manager, sent out a fundraising letter on Friday accusing the Bush campaign of 'losing any last sense of decency' by posting the new advertisement."
" George W. Bush | Campaign 2004 | Hitler | Sen. John Kerry | MoveOn.org | David Sanger
Sen. Zell Miller: He"s No McCain
John Files" Saturday report, "Democrat Says He'll Address GOP Meeting," makes one thing clear about Bush-supporting Democrat Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia: He"s no John McCain. While the Times fawningly speculates over the prospect of the moderate and media-beloved McCain running as Kerry"s veep, it allows a liberal Democrat to excoriate Miller for planning to speak at the Republican National Convention.
Files writes: "Senator Zell Miller, a Georgia Democrat who has often been at odds with his party, plans to speak at the Republican National Convention this summer, Congressional aides said Friday. Representative John Lewis, also a Democrat and the dean of the Georgia Congressional delegation, called Mr. Miller's decision to appear at the convention on behalf of President Bush 'a shame and a disgrace.'"
Files passes on more abuse from Lewis, "a leader in the civil rights movement," basically letting Lewis call Miller a segregationist: "'This is the same Zell Miller who said 40 years ago that President Lyndon Johnson had sold his soul when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,' Mr. Lewis said on Friday."
The story gives Lewis four paragraphs worth of quotes on Miller, but quotes no one from the Republican side (Sen. Miller himself refused to comment for the story.)
" Campaign 2004 | Convention | John Files | Rep. John Lewis | Sen. Zell Miller
Prominent Conservative Speakers "Mistake" for GOP
Noting how several moderate Republicans will have prominent roles at the GOP"s convention in Manhattan, political reporter Adam Nagourney insists the White House has learned a lesson: No high-profile conservative speakers: ""with the decision to give high-profile roles to the moderate Republicans Mr. Schwarzenegger and Mr. McCain, the White House appears to be working to avoid the mistakes of Mr. Bush's father in 1992. At that year's convention, in Houston, more conservative speakers were given high-profile spots, setting a tone for the convention that haunted former President George Bush throughout the campaign."
" George W. Bush | Conservatives | Convention