Falsely claiming Bush's job approval is not "as far down as he was in November," Matthews again expressed disbelief at Bush's unpopularity, asking: "[W]hat happened to respect?"

››› ››› JOE BROWN

Citing the results of a new Pew Research Center poll -- in which 48 percent of respondents used "negative" words such as "incompetent," "idiot," or "liar" to describe President Bush -- Chris Matthews remarked: "I checked this twice. ... I couldn't believe it, but it's true." Matthews added: "[W]hat happened to respect?"

On the March 16 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews again expressed disbelief at President Bush's current unpopularity. Citing the results of a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press -- in which 48 percent of respondents used "negative" words such as "incompetent," "idiot," or "liar" to describe Bush -- Matthews remarked: "I checked this twice. ... I couldn't believe it, but it's true." He then asked National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne: "[W]hat happened to respect?" Additionally, Matthews falsely claimed that Bush's current approval ratings are "not all the way, but almost as far down as he was in November [2005]." In fact, the most recent poll conducted by NBC News, in conjunction with The Wall Street Journal, showed a record-low job approval rating for Bush. Other recent polls -- including the Pew poll Matthews cited -- have also shown record-low job approval ratings for the president.

As Media Matters for America noted, Matthews expressed similar sentiments about Bush's popularity on the previous night's edition of Hardball, when he said he was "amazed" at polling that shows that Bush is unpopular. Media Matters has also documented examples (here and here) of Matthews inflating Bush's likeability.

Matthews's false claim regarding Bush's job approval ratings came in response to O'Beirne, who said she was "struck by the consistent 37, 38 [percent] approval ratings for this president." Matthews asked Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, another guest on the program:

MATTHEWS: What do you think is going on with these numbers? Why is the president, who was able to pull back some of the bad numbers over Christmas and the holidays -- he was able to get them up a bit. They've fallen back down -- not all the way -- but almost as far down as he was in November [2005]. What's up?

In fact, the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll -- conducted March 10-13 -- shows a record-low 37-percent job approval rating for Bush. The previous low approval rating recorded by that poll was 38 percent, in November 2005. Other recent polls have also shown Bush's job approval ratings at record lows. The March 8-12 Pew poll Matthews cited showed a 33-percent approval rating for Bush -- a "new low," as the poll's authors noted. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showed a 36-percent approval rating for Bush -- also a "new low," according to a March 13 report by USA Today. Additionally, a February 22-26 CBS News poll showed a 34-percent approval rating for Bush -- an "all-time low," according to a February 27 CBS News online article.

The only poll discovered in a Media Matters review that showed Bush's numbers higher than in November 2005 was a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted March 14-15, which showed an approval rating of 39 percent for Bush compared with a record low of 36 percent in November 2005.

From the March 16 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Take a look at this very unpleasant bit of polling here. In a recent Pew Research Center poll, the one word descriptions of President Bush have turned incredibly negative with 48 percent -- I checked this twice, this, I couldn't believe it, but it's true -- 48 percent of the people responding to this poll used such words as "incompetent," "idiot," and "liar" to describe our president. Kate O'Beirne, what happened to respect?

O'BEIRNE: Well -- well, 40 percent of Americans voted for John Kerry, and, presumably, in November '04, would have attached those adjectives to George Bush. I'm more struck by the consistent 37, 38 [percent] approval ratings for this president.

MATTHEWS: The base.

O'BEIRNE: Yeah, exactly.

MATTHEWS: Will it hold?

O'BEIRNE: This is lower than the base.

MATTHEWS: Will it hold?

O'BEIRNE: I would argue it's lower than the base. I suspect not, but I think some of the things that could move those numbers some, because it does include disaffected Republicans and conservatives, some of that is outside his control. There are some things he doesn't control that could be enormously helpful to him and that's just a really uncomfortable place to be.

MATTHEWS: What do you think is going on with these numbers? Why is the president, who was able to pull back some of the bad numbers over Christmas and the holidays -- he was able to get them up a bit. They've fallen back down -- not all the way -- but almost as far down as he was in November [2005]. What's up?

McMAHON: Well, I mean, I think what's up is his administration got caught in another round of untruths. And I think this is the most dangerous kind of slide that a politician can endure, because what's happening now --

MATTHEWS: Look at the slide here. Excuse me, Steve, but this is something people don't understand. This is not some seasonal change or -- it's a serial thing, as we say in statistics, a long trend line down from the high point, of course, when he was so heroic after 9-11, in the 80s. It's a pretty strong 45-degree trend line.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
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