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On the November 4 broadcast of PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times columnist David Brooks falsely claimed that during their presidencies Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan saw their job approval ratings fall to "the 20s." During a discussion with nationally syndicated columnist Mark Shields, Brooks argued that President Bush's recent slide in the polls is "not irreversible. Clinton was much lower than Bush is now. Reagan was lower." When Shields countered, "Not in the job ratings," Brooks replied, "They [Clinton and Reagan] were in the 20s."
Bush's lowest approval rating to date was a 35-percent mark in a CBS News poll from October 30-November 1 (with a margin of error of +/-3 percent). According to the polling archive of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, Reagan's lowest approval rating was also 35 percent, in a Gallup Poll from January 28-31, 1983. The Roper Center lists Clinton's low at a 36 percent, according to a Yank/Time/CNN Poll from May 26-27, 1993.
From the November 4 broadcast of PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:
SHIELDS: And George Bush was to be this pillar of integrity. He is now seen as morally and ethically inferior to Bill Clinton.
BROOKS: Yeah, but it's not irreversible. I mean, Clinton was much lower than Bush is now. Reagan was lower in Iran Contra.
SHIELDS: Not in the job ratings.
BROOKS: Well, they were in the 20s. But the point is, you've got to make some changes. And when you go back and read about the Reagan administration, you realize how fluid it was. They really did make big changes.