Almost a month after touting on-air their poll finding that 61% of Catholics supposedly backed President Obama's controversial birth control mandate, CBS failed to mention their most recent poll that found that 57% are now against the regulation. The network devoted an article to the new poll statistic on their website, but failed to cover it on their morning and evening newscasts Monday into Tuesday.
Instead, CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning did some damage control on behalf of the President, downplaying his "all-time low" approval number and claiming that "there's little that he [Obama] can do...in the short term to affect gas prices, and gas prices hurts his political chances," as anchor Charlie Rose put it. Their poll partners at the New York Times also buried the finding in their front-page article on the poll, and spun it by suggesting that women were "split" on the controversy.
Writer Lucy Madison explained in the Tuesday CBSNews.com article, "Poll: Most say employers should be allowed not to cover contraception," that "most Americans believe there should be an exception for employers who may have a moral or religious objection to covering birth control for their employees....When asked specifically about religiously-affiliated employers, 57 percent of Americans said they should be able to opt out of the mandate if they have religious or moral objections. Thirty-six percent said such organizations should have to cover birth control."
The poll's question in March asked, "What about for religiously-affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university? Do you think their health insurance plans should have to cover the full costs of birth control for their female employees, or should they be allowed to opt out of covering that based on religious or moral objections?" Back in February, however, the media outlets omitted the religious liberty component to the issue in their question: "What about for religiously-affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university? Do you support or oppose a recent federal requirement that their health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female employees?"
The February 14, 2012 edition of CBS Evening News, along with CBS This Morning the following day, played up how "61% overall told us they approve of that policy [the HHS mandate]. The number was exactly the same for Catholic respondents." On the other hand, a poll released the same week by the Pew Research Center, which mentioned the First Amendment/conscience issue in its question, found that "55% of Catholics who have heard about the [mandate] support an exemption to it...[and] Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week, 63% support an exemption."