NBC’s Todd Avoids Obama’s ‘Incompetence,’ Falsely Touts Health Care as Obama’s ‘Strongest Positive’

Some creative spin in favor of President Barack Obama from Chuck Todd on Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News. Recounting the results of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which puts Obama ahead of Mitt Romney by 47 to 44 percent, Todd declared Obama’s “strongest positive was a surprise, ‘health care,’” though it actually was the third-most common positive reply to the question: “What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Barack Obama as President?”

Citing Obama’s negatives, Todd relayed how they “include the ‘economy’ and ‘unemployment’” – skipping over the second most-common reply – “lack of experience/incompetent” – and how more listed ObamaCare as a negative than a positive. [UPDATED below with Todd's later more accurate recitation.]

The on-screen graphic, however, which showed an array of the most-common positive and negative descriptions of Obama, prominently displayed “incompetent.”

Question 18 in the PDF of the poll results (on msnbc.com, on wsj.com) provides a list of the positive and negative characteristics offered by those polled. (Image of this portion of the PDF)

Todd’s deputy, Mark Murray, in a “First Read” post, accurately relayed the findings:

For Obama, 52 percent of the open-ended answers for him were negative: economy (15 percent), lack of experience/incompetent (9 percent), Obamacare (8 percent), high unemployment (6 percent) and broken promises (6 percent).

Another 44 percent were positive: good leader/doing good job (10 percent), for the people (6 percent), health-care reform (5 percent) and fair/honest (5 percent).

Here’s how Todd, after correctly reporting the traits for Romney, mangled them for Obama in his story on the Tuesday, June 26 NBC Nightly News:

...To get a better understanding of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, we asked voters to name the first words that came to their mind about each candidate. For Mitt Romney, his strengths: “Good businessman,” “change,” “conservative.” His negatives: Personal traits like “wealthy,” “out of touch.”

For the President, his strongest positive was a surprise, “health care,” also “good leader.” But his big negative continues to include the “economy” and “unemployment.”...

[UPDATE, 2:55 PM EDT June 27: Todd repeated the same canard on Wednesday’s Today show, but corrected himself, to match what this post noted about health care not being the biggest positive for Obama, ObamaCare just as much a negative and incompetence a commonly cited negative, during his 9 AM EDT The Daly Rundown on MSNBC. In a taped piece on the June 27 Today: “The President’s biggest strength is somewhat surprising: health care. But his negatives remain the economy and unemployment.” Live on MSNBC two hours later:

The President’s positives. Top answers included “good job for the people.” Another top answer was “health care,” believe it or not, which was also among the top negative answers as well. The President’s number one negative, though, you can see it here, the economy looms over everything else. High unemployment and quote, “incompetent,” are some of the other top answers.]

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