The Washington Post has fun juxtaposing hurricane headlines and graphics today. The top left of the front page reads "45 Bodies Found In La. Hospital." The subhead is "Bush Visits New Orleans and Defends Federal Response; FEMA Chief Quits." I doubt the Post would have merged a Democratic president's actions with the somewhat unrelated discovery of bodies. Reporter Doug Struck notes "The news of the grim recovery, the largest such discovery since Hurricane Katrina struck, came hours after President Bush completed a tour of parts of the city and spoke to local officials."
But right under the 45-bodies-found headline is a pie graph showing "Bush Approval Falls," with 54 percent disapproving of Bush's handling of "the situation caused by Hurricane Katrina." (For poll analysis on how the Post purposely oversampled blacks, and then merged them into the "record low" Bush rating, see the Ankle Biting Pundits.)
The poll questions and the accompanying story seek to underline Democratic goals: 76 percent favor an independent commission to investigate the Katrina response, while 7 in 10 think a congressional probe will "get bogged down in partisan politics"; 63 percent of blacks agree that problems with the relief effort are an "indication of racial inequality"; and as Michael Fletcher and Richard Morin report it, "In the aftermath of what likely will be the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history, six in 10 Americans want lawmakers to delay action on pending legislation that would cut federal taxes by an estimated $70 million over the next five years." The story's headline highlights the race finding, and not the result that more poll respondents (57 percent) question state and local response to Katrina that question Bush and the federal response.
Fletcher and Morin say the Bushies view the polls with "gloomy realism," and quote one senior official saying "We're facing some stiff political headwinds." But it doesn't say the Post and other media outlets are the wind machine.