On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer referred to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as "controversial"; however, polls do not show that the public views Pelosi as controversial. The notion that Pelosi is "controversial" has been advanced by Republicans and media figures ahead of the midterm elections.
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On the October 20 broadcast of NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer referred to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) as "controversial," while noting that she "could become third in line of succession for the presidency" and introducing a segment featuring an interview with Pelosi. Lauer did not name any particular "controversies" involving Pelosi. However, as Media Matters for America has noted, polls do not show that the public views Pelosi as controversial. A majority of Americans have either a favorable view of her or have not heard enough about her to voice an opinion. The notion that Pelosi is "controversial" has been advanced by Republicans and media figures ahead of the midterm elections, as Media Matters has documented:
- Discussing the November elections with Lauer on the September 5 broadcast of Today, Hardball host Chris Matthews asserted that "the stakes" in the midterms would include "whether we want Nancy Pelosi to be the first woman speaker of the House or not." Matthews predicted that, in the event that Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in the November elections, "that iconic fact of that woman sitting behind the president during a State of the Union address is an enormous change in our culture," referring to Pelosi. Matthews continued: "A lot of professional women and men will say, 'Great.' A lot of the more conservative people will say, 'Wait a minute, this woman's from San Francisco, she's a liberal.' "
- On the August 29 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Fox News host Sean Hannity sought to encourage Republican voters and candidates to ensure a Republican victory in the November midterm elections by proclaiming that "there are things in life worth fighting and dying for, and one of 'em is making sure" that Pelosi "doesn't become the speaker."
- On the October 15 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Fox News Washington bureau managing editor Brit Hume baselessly smeared Pelosi, stating that she "is not a popular figure or respected figure nationally." Continuing, Hume asserted that "her behavior will be more visible than ever, more conspicuous than ever" and "I suspect that" having Pelosi as speaker of the House of Representatives "would not be terrifically positive" for "the possibility of Hillary Clinton being nominated or even elected in 2008." Hume provided no specifics to support his claim that Pelosi could hurt Clinton's potential presidential bid in 2008.
- In his column for the October 23 edition of The Weekly Standard, executive editor Fred Barnes wrote that Pelosi "is the most unpopular national politician in America." However, polls do not support Barnes's claim, and, in fact, show that President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) are far less popular than Pelosi.
From the October 20 broadcast of NBC's Today:
LAUER: If you believe the polls, then the Democrats could very well win back control of the House of Representatives in about three weeks' time. If they do, the next speaker of the House will be a woman, for the first time in history. Our national correspondent, Jamie Gangel, caught up with the controversial Representative Nancy Pelosi -- the woman who could become third in line of succession for the presidency.