Study: Networks Bury Own Poll Results to Protect Obama

Study: Networks Bury Own Poll Results to Protect Obama

According to a study by The Media Research Center, the three big broadcast networks are not only ignoring President Obama’s cratering approval numbers, to protect him from that news, the nets are going so far as to bury their own polls. Despite commissioning 15 polls this year to measure the president’s approval ratings, the MRC found that the network’s evening broadcasts only reported twice on the results.  

As an example, although the network has commissioned 5 polls in 2014, The NBC Nightly News hasn’t reported once on the president’s falling approval ratings. Not once.

During the first 8 months of the fifth year of George W. Bush’s presidency (2006), the MRC reports that the networks commissioned 23 polls and reported a whopping 52 times on the former-president’s falling approval numbers.

By contrast, during  the first 8 months of the 5th year of Obama’s presidency (2014), the same networks commissioned 15 polls and only reported on the approval results twice.


Such coverage is in stunning contrast to how those same newscasts relentlessly emphasized polls showing bad news for George W. Bush during the same phase of his presidency. Media Research Center analysts reviewed every reference on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts to public opinion polls from January 1 through August 31, 2014, and from the same time period in 2006. Eight years ago, the networks aired 124 evening news reports which cited public opinion polls about either President Bush’s overall approval rating or his handling of specific policies. In 2014, those same broadcasts produced only nine reports which mentioned public opinion surveys related to President Obama.

The broadcast networks aren’t just protecting Obama regarding his sagging approval ratings,, but also from his collapsing numbers on specific issues such as the economy, foreign policy, and immigration. As time passes, Obama is more and more out of step with the American public on key issues. The networks do not want the public to know that:

So far in 2014, only four evening news reports have mentioned how the public rated President Obama’s handling of specific issues or policy areas. …

During the corresponding time period in the Bush presidency, the networks mentioned the public’s rating of how his administration was handling specific policies in 90 evening news stories. On 63 occasions (70% of the time), the networks cited polling data that showed the President on the wrong side of public opinion on issues ranging from universal health care, the Dubai ports deal, embryonic stem cell research, immigration, gas prices, the economy and his administration’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The media is not dumb. During the Bush years, the media knew that pounding these numbers to death would only serve to sour the public even more on the Bush presidency. A frenzy of pessimism breeds pessimism.

This same media is obviously willing to go to extraordinary, even absurd lengths, to protect Obama from that same feeding frenzy.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC                


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