Just a week after ABC, NBC, MSNBC and CNN put aside their competitive instincts and heavily touted a CBS News poll showing the President with an "all-time low" approval rating (after the pollsters contacted many Democrats and relatively few Republicans), ABC is showing a different kind of polling bias: Trumpeting just the findings that assist the administration's liberal critics.
Monday's World News Tonight and Tuesday's Good Morning America both headlined with how 80 percent pessimistically believe "civil war" is likely in Iraq. But isn't an opinion ABC has been pushing on viewers? On February 24, Good Morning America's Charles Gibson fretted about "grave concerns about civil war," and World News Tonight co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas insisting on March 1 that Iraq was "dangerously close to civil war."
As for President Bush's approval rating, ABC found it essentially unchanged since its last poll in January (41% approval now, 42% approval back then). So on last night's World News Tonight, Vargas and George Stephanopoulos just ignored that number, seven points higher than the 34% "all-time low" in the CBS poll that every network embraced last week.
On this morning's Good Morning America, however, co-host Robin Roberts claimed that ABC's new poll had found "President Bush's job approval rating has sunk to a new career low." But isn't he much more popular than ABC said he was last week?
Some of what ABC News didn't tell TV viewers: Their poll found a majority (54%) said it was okay that the National Security Agency is "secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails between some people in the United States and other countries, without first getting court approval to do so." Didn't ABC tout that as a major scandal?
And, according to ABC's poll, half of the public (50%) agrees that "the war with Iraq has contributed to the long-term security of the United States," vs. 48% who say it has not. And, 62% said they favored how after 9/11 "FBI was given additional authority in areas like surveillance, wiretaps and obtaining records in terrorism investigations."
But you didn't hear that news if you watched ABC last night or this morning.