Olbermann Distorts Poll to Discredit Cheney

On Thursday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann disputed Vice President Cheney’s recent contention that history would likely judge the Bush administration more favorably than current approval rating numbers would suggest, as the MSNBC host distorted the results of a July 2007 Rasmussen poll to discredit Cheney’s claim that views of President Ford have softened up over the 30 years since he pardoned Richard Nixon. Olbermann, who has a history of using distortion to attack conservatives, declared that Ford was the "twelfth most unpopular President of all time, even though he was only in office for 30 months."

During the show's regular "Bushed!" segment, after imitating Cheney’s voice while quoting the Vice President, Olbermann asserted:

Apart from the reality that the act of pardoning a crooked President to soothe a ruptured nation bears no resemblance to lying that nation into an unnecessary war and getting 4,000 of our troops killed, and apart from the fact that 30 years ago – 30 years from now, rather – Bush is much more likely to be considered asleep at the switch on 9/11 than he is now, Cheney is also wrong about the idea that Gerald Ford is viewed favorably 32 years after he left office. The last polling on overall presidential popularity done by Rasmussen for July 4, 2007, still had Ford in a tie for the twelfth most unpopular President of all time, even though he was only in office for 30 months.

But the MSNBC host arrived at this result by looking only at what percentage of Americans expressed an "unfavorable" view of Ford, which was 26 percent. Olbermann ignored the same poll’s finding that 62 percent of Americans had a "favorable" view of Ford, and that he had the thirteenth highest "favorability" rating of all Presidents.

And among the past ten Presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower through George W. Bush, Ford ranks fourth highest in "favorability," but only ranks seventh highest in "unfavorability." Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Clinton and both Bushes were all viewed unfavorably by more Americans than Ford, demonstrating that the former President’s negative ratings are relatively low among the more recent Presidents that most Americans can remember.

As documented previously by NewsBusters, Olbermann has a history of using distortion to attack conservatives. More on past distortions by Olbermann can be seen here.

 Below is a transcript of the relevant comments from the Thursday, December 18, Countdown show on MSNBC:

KEITH OLBERMANN: But first, because they’re not going away soon enough, the headlines breaking in the administration’s 50 running scandals: "Bushed!" Number three: "People-Will-Love-Him-When-He’s-Dead"-Gate. Vice President Cheney becoming the latest to insist that history will generously judge Mr. Bush and, thus, his administration, and, thus, Mr. Cheney, too. His, quote, "place in history will likely grow during the next 20 to 30 years." He trotted out the argument about how Gerald Ford was vilified for pardoning Richard Nixon, but now he’s not anymore.

"By the time of his passing a couple of years ago, opinion had totally turned on that. In fact, most people by then, even many who had been very critical 30 years before, were in agreement that, in fact, it was a good decision, it was the right thing to do from the standpoint of the country."

Apart from the reality that the act of pardoning a crooked President to soothe a ruptured nation bears no resemblance to lying that nation into an unnecessary war and getting 4,000 of our troops killed, and apart from the fact that 30 years ago – 30 years from now, rather – Bush is much more likely to be considered asleep at the switch on 9/11 than he is now, Cheney is also wrong about the idea that Gerald Ford is viewed favorably 32 years after he left office. The last polling on overall presidential popularity done by Rasmussen for July 4, 2007, still had Ford in a tie for the twelfth most unpopular President of all time, even though he was only in office for 30 months.


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Polling MSNBC Countdown Gerald Ford