Skipping Over Bush's Improved Polls, Zeroing In On Christmas Card Flap

After a month of hounding President Bush for low poll numbers, Thursday’s “Early Show” on CBS ignored their own network's poll showing President Bush’s approval rating has improved by five points over the last month. But a month ago, when a CBS poll found lower ratings for the President, the “Early Show” mentioned it two days in a row.  CBS’s Bill Plante was quick to point out that among modern Presidents; only Richard Nixon was lower at this point in his second term.  The next day, Thalia Assuras touted how “the President’s poll numbers are defining a new low.”  However, CBS's polling partner, the “New York Times”, found President Bush’s rising poll numbers important enough to put  on their front page above the fold Thursday morning under a headline reading “Economy Lifts Bush’s Support in Latest Poll,” and the poll was also featured on last night's "CBS Evening News” with Bob Schieffer.

While "The Early Show" did not deem the President's improved poll standing as worth reporting, they jumped on the controversy surrounding the official White House Christmas Card because the card does not contain the words "Merry Christmas." CBS's Bill Plante did admit, however, that it was the first President Bush in 1992 who was the last to include those words on his Christmas cards, which begs the question: Why is this news and a controversy now if it has been 13 years since the words "Merry Christmas" last appeared in an official White House greeting card? 

Transcripts from the “Early Show” and the “New York Times” lead paragraph follow:

The last time the New York Times and CBS News released a poll, November 3; it was cited by CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante on the “Early Show” in a story about I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby on November 3 in the 7:00 hour.

Bill Plante: "Most Americans in the latest CBS News poll do believe that the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's name to reporters came from the administration, though a majority gives Libby the benefit of the doubt, saying they don't know enough. But the President's approval rating has hit an all-time low in the wake of the indictments, Hurricane Katrina, the Harriet Miers nomination and continuing casualties in Iraq. Among recent presidents, only Richard Nixon was lower at this point in a second term."

On November 4 in the 7:00 hour of the “Early Show”, Thalia Assuras, in reporting about President Bush’s trip to Argentina for the Summit of the Americas, used the occasion to harp on President Bush’s low approval ratings.

Thalia Assuras: "When President Bush landed in Mar del Plata, he put 5500 miles between himself and Washington. But a summit steeped in trade issues and punctuated by protests from South America's growing voice of discord with its North American neighbor cannot cover the clamor back home. On Thursday, Vice President Dick Cheney's former aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction of justice, perjury, and lying to investigators. Mister Cheney is virtually certain to be called as a witness and be asked about the Bush Iraq War rationale while top advisor Karl Rove is expected to learn within the next two weeks whether he, too, will face charges about lying about conversations with the press. The President's poll numbers are defining a new low and critics call for the White House to clean house."

On November 7 in the 7:00 hour of the “Early Show”, in a report in President Bush’s final day of his South American trip, Thalia Assuras again reminds us of President Bush’s low approval ratings.

Thalia Assuras: “So as the President arrives in Washington later today, he'll find himself again in a cauldron of controversy and declining approval ratings.”

Conversely, the silence of the “Early Show” on the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News poll was deafening this morning, as it was left to the “New York Times” to report the polls findings, which it did on the front page of Thursday morning’s paper. The lead paragraph follows.

“After months of political erosion, President Bush’s approval rating improved markedly in the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, largely tracking Americans’ more positive attitudes about the economy.” (New York Times, December 8).

Economy Polling CBS New York Times Early Show