PBS's Gwen Ifill Dizzy From Republican Spin

The bad news keeps coming for the Bush administration, at least that’s what we were told on PBS’s "Washington Week." For those not familiar with the program, it is moderated by Gwen Ifill, and is a roundtable discussion of reporters, each reporter taking a turn focusing on a political topic while the others ask them questions.

This week, one of the guests was Doyle McManus from the Los Angeles Times who discussed President Bush’s low approval ratings. Ms. Ifill introduced the topic:

"But if Donald Rumsfeld is having some credibility problems with the senior military, it pales in comparison to the credibility problems President Bush appears to be having with the American people. A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll shows more than twice as many people strongly disapprove of the president's performance as strongly approve."

And then proceeded to ask Mr. McManus a loaded question:

"And that's just the beginning of the bad news, isn't it, Doyle?"

McManus discussed the poll numbers and mentioned that one Republican tried to portray them as good news since the numbers appeared to have stabilized:

"Well, it is, Gwen, although one Republican tried to convince me this week that the polls we saw - and the LA Times/Bloomberg is one; there were several others including one Barbara's paper, USA Today - that those polls were actually good news because the president's popularity has bottomed out. It's now stabilized at this low level of 39 or 37 depending on who you're looking at. (Laughter.)"

Ms. Ifill responded to this analysis with a dismissive remark:

"I'm dizzy from that spin, I think."

The problem with Ms. Ifill’s statement isn’t that the Republican cited by Mr. McManus isn’t spinning; no one can argue that the polls are good news for President Bush or Republicans. The problem is that Ms. Ifill’s show is nothing but spin. From the journalists picked to appear to the topics picked for discussion, it’s designed to make liberals and democrats look good and low poll numbers look like "just the beginning of the bad news" for President Bush and Republicans. So it seems, Ms. Ifill should be dizzy from the spin all the time.

Polling PBS Washington Week

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