CBS Ignores Own Polling Result When Trump Comes Out with Approval Win


Don’t like how a poll turned out? Just don’t publicize it and hope no one notices.

That’s at least the takeaway from a CBS News poll where the headline should have been a majority of respondents approved of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Instead, the takeaway was pretty much everything that wasn’t that.

On Thursday, the day the poll was released, “CBS This Morning” gave it a bit of play. According to Newsbusters, this is what co-host Tony Dokoupil had to say during the 7 a.m. hour: “A CBS News poll out this morning shows about half of Americans, 51 percent of us, believe the outbreak will get worse in the next month. Only 28 percent think it will get better.”

Well, that’s strange. I thought we were supposed to be listening to the scientists when it came to the trajectory of the coronavirus. Does flattening the curve depend on polling data? Not to be flippant, but I don’t think people’s opinions on coronavirus are going to make that much of a difference when it comes to, well, anything.

All right, so what was in the 8 a.m. hour? “In the latest CBS News poll, 83 percent of Americans say our top priority should be staying home to stop the spread of the virus. Seventeen percent said getting back to work to get the economy going is more important,” co-host Anthony Mason said.

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That was all the play the network could give the poll on-air.

On CBS News’ website, it got similar short shrift.

The first item of business was, yet again, how people felt the coronavirus pandemic would be over the next month. I suppose as a barometer of public opinion on the matter, it’s not unimportant, but it has no bearing on what’s going to happen with this. Dr. Anthony Fauci, having seen these numbers, isn’t going to wander to the podium doom-struck on Friday afternoon and tell us things are direr than they were the day before because the respondents in a CBS News poll thought things were going to get worse over the next month.

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Then came the job approval ratings: “Marks for President Trump’s handling of the outbreak remain mixed and have not dramatically changed from last week, with 51% saying he’s doing a good job — down two points since last week — and 49% a bad one,” the story read.

“Views on the president’s handling are strongly related to partisanship, but also depend on where one thinks the outbreak is headed, as well as on one’s own concerns about getting sick.

“Those who think the outbreak is going to get worse nationwide are more apt to think he’s doing a bad job, as are those more concerned with getting the virus themselves. Those who are more optimistic on both fronts give the president better marks.”

Then there was the number of Americans who felt the president’s daily coronavirus briefings were helping.

“The president’s press conferences, specifically, also get mixed reviews, with 53% calling them helpful and 47% unhelpful,” CBS News reported.

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As previously stated, this was a poll that CBS News also conducted last week. In that poll, another majority — this time 53 percent — said the president was doing a good job. The margin of error is 2.4 points, so the number is statistically the same, essentially.

Meanwhile, that survey only got 10 seconds of airtime.

Gayle King began with this: “A new CBS News poll says three-quarters  of Americans, 72 percent, believe it will take months or longer for this virus to be contained.”

Then there was Dokoupil: “We want to get you more on a new CBS poll. While most Americans do not think the Trump administration was prepared for the coronavirus pandemic, 53 percent do approve of the way the president is handling it.”

Ten measly seconds.

By the way, in case you were curious, the RealClearPolitics polling average finds Trump without a majority but still with more respondents approving than disapproving. As of Friday morning, the numbers are at 49.8 percent approval to 47.7 percent disapproval.

Not a majority, but not bad — that seems to be the consensus we’ve seen thus far.

How America perceives the president’s performance on the coronavirus issue should get top billing here. When the candidates are even able to hit the campaign trail again — whatever a campaign trail looks like — that’s going to be what voters are going to care about.

Instead, the headline was that people were panicking over coronavirus, which was something almost anyone could have told you.

This isn’t unusual, especially when you consider a Gallup poll released last week that showed a 60 percent approval rating got almost no play in the media.

At some point, you almost get inured to this sort of thing. You can come up with any variety of reasons for it. The media doesn’t like Trump. The media loves ratings and, quite frankly, inducing panic induces higher Nielsen numbers.

The problem with media bias at this juncture is that we don’t have a relationship with the candidates that isn’t mediated by the media now.

With six months until Election Day, we’re mostly locked down in our houses with very little movement allowed or desired, attached to TV and social media. The latter can mitigate the bias of the former, but it can’t blot it out.

If they can’t bring themselves to report on the most basic aspects of their own polling for reasons we can all too easily guess at, conservatives should be worried.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture