The mainstream media's incessant, excited chatter about a looming Bush Bounce represented just the latest embarrassment in an endless parade of journalism missteps during the Bush years. The depressing puppet show--senior White House aides announce things are great, conservative 'news' outlets echo the spin and then MSM journalists gamely play along--has become annoying, tiresome and transparent. Yet the MSM won't stop embarrassing themselves.
Two problems with the contagious Bush Bounce story: a) the Bounce was all but non-existent, with three of the last four national polls (USA Today, WSJ-NBC, CNN) showing no statistical movement whatsoever for Bush following last week's wildly hyped "wave of good news" (AP).
And even more importantly, b) when it was eagerly misleading news consumers about how Bush was about to enjoy a big bump in the public opinion surveys, the press provided virtually no context regarding exactly where Bush stood in the polls. Yes, some journalists noted in passing that Bush's job approval ratings had vaguely fallen during his second term. But notice what is not reported and discussed in polite Beltway company--that Bush is an historically unpopular president. Period. (Fact: If Bush doesn't post an approval rating gain soon, he'll trail only Richard Nixon in establishing the longest sub-40 job approval rating streak in modern American history.) Journalists routinely refuse to put Bush's sorry standings in any sort of perspective. Instead, they go to extraordinary lengths, as they have throughout the last two years, to avoid spelling out the obvious--it would take an hydraulic lift to get Bush's approval numbers back into the realm of respectability, let alone popularity. i.e. Bush would need a 25-point spike to equal the lofy heights President Clinton reached during his second term.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
"The Press Plays Dumb About the Bush Bounce"