Bozell & Graham Column: Burying Negative Polls

Network news outlets conduct their own polls. They also bury the poll results when they don’t like them. On PBS on January 1, liberal pundit Mark Shields brought some very bad news for the Left. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 73 percent say they want the next president to take a different approach from President Obama's.

So NBC, both the creator of the poll and a relentless cheerleader of Obama, chose not to air that bombshell. Instead, they buried it deep in an article on the Meet the Press website. “This will become a high hurdle for the Democrats at some stage of the 2016 election," Democratic pollster Fred Yang declared in that piece.

So what did they pluck out of their December polling to report instead? Take a look.

December 10: Nightly News anchor Lester Holt promoted “brand-new” results that 57 percent of America opposed Donald Trump’s notion to ban (temporarily) Muslim immigration to America. On screen, a graphic showed it was 57 percent opposed, and only 25 percent in favor.

December 11: Today doubled down. Peter Alexander reported “the firestorm over Trump`s proposed Muslim ban keeps raging. Our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows nearly six in ten Americans oppose Trump`s proposal. But Republicans are divided, 42 percent in favor, 36 percent against.”

December 13: Both Meet the Press and Nightly News touted NBC’s poll showing Trump on top of GOP race, with 27 percent to Ted Cruz’s 22 percent. Still no mention of the current president’s unpopularity.

December 14: On Today, Peter Alexander repeated the Trump/Cruz findings, then added: “There are some new numbers from our NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out just this morning that show Hillary Clinton would trounce Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup. It`s much closer though between Clinton and Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.”

But there’s no mention that if she runs on Obama’s platform, she too would be crushed.

That evening,  anchor Lester Holt reported “In our brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll [apparently their polls never age], 40 percent say the federal government’s top priority is national security and terrorism. That number has more than doubled since April, and 29 percent say they’re worried that they, or a loved one, will be the victim of a terror attack. But today, for the second time in just over a week, President Obama argued that his strategy against ISIS is working.”

Holt (and NBC) deliberately skipped numbers revolving around this issue that are far more important. Obama has his lowest approval rating since right before the 2014 midterm wipeout, at 43 percent. More to the point, just 37 percent approve and 57 percent disapprove of the president's handling of foreign policy, and only 34 percent approve and 60 percent disapprove of his handling of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.            

NBC’s pollsters said these low numbers on foreign policy were comparable to George W. Bush’s numbers at this point in his second term. In addition, only 20 percent of the public believes the country is headed in the right direction, versus a whopping 70 percent who think it's on the wrong track.

The networks constantly hammered George W. Bush with bad polling results like these in the long War on Terrorism. But for Obama, NBC and the other networks routinely and shamelessly spike these awful numbers to preserve his “legacy” and to keep Hillary “inevitable” in November.

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center
Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis