Couric and Russert Continue to Push Bush's Low Polls

Today's pushing of Bush's low poll numbers continued at 7:14 am when Katie Couric opened the political analysis segment with Tim Russert: "And now to the President's trip, back to the hurricane zone amid approval ratings that have sunk to an all-time low. Tim Russert is NBC's Washington bureau chief and moderator of Meet the Press. Tim, good morning."

Couric then implied Bush's war in Iraq could impede the salvaging of New Orleans: "Can we afford it? I mean Tim, obviously, with the war in Iraq's sucking a lot of money and the federal deficit quite severe, I mean can this country afford to, to put so much money in the rebuilding of New Orleans?"

To his credit Russert said both Republicans and Democrats agreed that it was affordable but Couric then moved on to Today's theme of the day, Bush's record low polls: "Alright let's talk about the approval ratings of the President as Kelly O'Donnell mentioned there at an all-time low. We found that in Newsweek he has a 38 percent approval rating and the Associated Press poll found the President to have a 39 percent. Kelly, I think also mentioned the Zogby poll which is 41 percent, the lowest in their poll numbers. So can the President bounce back from this? How does he go about rebuilding his image?"

Today then went on to portray Bush as cold and distant in a case of video bias as on screen viewers were treated to footage of Bush's bullhorn speech on the rubble after 9/11 contrasted with Bush looking out the window from Air Force One. The following is Couric's and Russert's analysis that ran over the video:

Couric: "And Tim as you well know a lot of people are comparing his, what he did after September 11 to what he has done so far in New Orleans and three days after September 11th he made that bullhorn speech which according to many was the defining moment of his first term and yet three days after New Orleans he toured it and appeared somewhat detached from Air Force One. Is this going to be the enduring image of his second term, you think?"

Russert: "Well that's the concern of the White House and it's a grave concern. They realized that September 11th defined his first term. They're concerned that Katrina will define his second term. There are words being used like, 'detached,' as you used, or 'cavalier,' and others. That's why you saw the President, on the ground, his third visit. There'll be many more visits by himself, by the First Lady, by the entire cabinet. They have to turn around the image that somehow the President of the United States missed an opportunity here to help the less fortunate in New Orleans and it's gonna take an awful lot of time and effort because first impressions are lasting impressions. We're taught that at a young age. It happens to be true in politics."

Finally Couric left on the following pessimistic note:

Couric: "And real quickly, Tim. I had several officials say to me when I was covering the story, 'Katie this is a clear indication that this country is not prepared for another terrorist attack.' Is that a fair assessment and will action be taken to make sure that the response to a terrorist attack is going to be better than the response to Katrina?"

Russert: "Katie, Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker, said exactly that. And if you talk to people privately they are deathly afraid that if there is another terrorist attack or another natural disaster we just don't have our act together at the local, state or federal level. It is something of grave concern here in official Washington."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.