Watch national news outlets choose which opinion poll results they report and which ones they bury. It tells you everything you need to know about their political agenda.
On the morning of Sunday, April 15, ABC anchor Paula Faris reported a new ABC News-Washington Post poll that showed President Trump’s approval rating “ticking up slightly” to 40 percent, “lifted in part by the strong economy.” The on-screen graphic also pointed out that 56 percent disapprove.
Having established that America disapproves of her GOP president, it seemed fair to continue the narrative by connecting it to the next segment, with anchor Dan Harris and chief anchor George Stephanopoulos. Harris asked Stephanopoulos about his hourlong special that night that touted former FBI Director James Comey’s book: “To your eyes, do you, do you see anything in this Comey book and interview that could hurt that approval rating?” Stephanopoulos said it was “a scathing personal assessment of President Trump, a scathing assessment of his presidency and what he believes President Trump is doing to the institutions and the rule of law in the country.”
But The Washington Post poll also had bad news for Democrats in Congress.
That part of the survey was covered … on page A-4. “Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victories in November,” the Post reported. Forty-seven percent of registered voters said they prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, and 43 percent favor the Republican. “That four-point margin compares with a 12-point advantage Democrats held in January,” the Post said.
That “blue wave” could still happen. This is just one snapshot. But it’s interesting that a shrinking advantage for Democrats didn’t get a lick of airtime on ABC. Pollsters also sought an approval rating for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — 32 percent positive, 44 percent negative — and ABC whistled past that disastrous number, too.
That network is not alone. An April NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll found the Democrats are ahead by only five points, 44 to 39 percent, in the generic ballot question of whether voters would prefer a GOP- or Democratic-controlled Congress. That’s a point more than the 3.9 percent margin of error. Neither NPR nor PBS reported that.
The new April NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found the preference of a Democratic-controlled Congress leading 47 to 40 percent, a slip from the 10-point gap in their last survey. That was discussed on one show on April 15, “Meet the Press.” Host Chuck Todd reported that number but then used another to put a positive spin on it for Democrats and show that “the news gods have a sense of humor.” He said, “66 percent of Democrats say they’re highly interested in the midterm election, while just 49 percent of Republicans say the same thing.” He pointed out that in 2010, these numbers were exactly reversed, and we know about the wave election of 2010.
No one expects these networks to report all of their polling results. But consumers should beware that these “facts first” networks have a tendency to pass over the results they don’t like and heavily emphasize the ones they do.
Whether they are reporting on polls or policies or scandals or gaffes, everything the networks report sounds like dark clouds and stormy seas for Trump and the GOP. Disaster is always around the corner. The wishful thinking is palpable and incessant.
Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.