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Media continues to ignore impeachment polling


http://mediamatters.org/items/200512100004

On November 7, Dan Froomkin wrote in a column for The Washington Post's website:

Back in June, Zogby asked Americans if they agreed or disagreed with the following question:

"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."

An astonishing 42 percent of Americans agreed. (I wrote about that in my July 6 column.)

Since then, no news organizations has [sic] expressed any curiosity, and no polling company has decided to ask the question on its own.

But afterdowningstreet.org , a group urging Congress to launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war, keeps asking.

In October, they commissioned Ipsos Public Affairs to ask a similar question. That poll found that 50 percent of Americans agreed.

Now, a new Zogby poll commissioned by the group finds that a clear majority -- 53 percent of Americans -- agree with the statement.

Since Froomkin's online column, news organizations have continued their steadfast refusal to report the results of a poll that shows that the majority of Americans think Bush should be impeached if he did not tell the truth about going to war with Iraq. Only five news reports available on Nexis mention the latest Zogby poll: the Froomkin column, an Investor's Business Daily editorial, a column in the University of Massachusetts student newspaper, a "Potpourri" feature in West Virginia's Charleston Gazette, and a column in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In a November 13 column, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell addressed reader requests for the Post to conduct its own polls to measure public support for impeachment:

First, there was a swarm to me and to Post Polling Editor Richard Morin asking that The Post do a poll on whether President Bush should be impeached. Whoa. Since we get mail all the time saying that we are biased against Bush or are in his back pocket, why would The Post want to do that? The question many demanded that The Post ask is biased and would produce a misleading result, Morin said; he added that the campaign was started by Democrats.com.

But Howell's defense doesn't ring true. Her reference to complaints that the Post is "biased against Bush or are in his back pocket" is simply an irrelevant dodge; it has nothing to do with the question. It's simply the same tired and lazy strategy that news organizations often fall back on in the face of criticism: saying, essentially: hey, both sides complain, so we must be doing everything right.

Further, Howell didn't explain how "the question many demanded the Post ask is biased," she just asserted it (attributing the assertion to Morin). But how would it be biased? Surely it must be possible to design a poll question to measure the public's support for impeachment that isn't "biased." After all, the Post did it repeatedly when there was a Democratic president.

For example, A January 1998 Post poll conducted just days after the first revelations of Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky asked the following questions:

"If this affair did happen and if Clinton did not resign, is this something for which Clinton should be impeached, or not?"

"There are also allegations that Clinton himself lied by testifying under oath that he did not have an affair with the woman. If Clinton lied in this way, would you want him to remain in office as president, or would you want him to resign the presidency?"

"If Clinton lied by testifying under oath that he did not have an affair with the woman, and he did not resign, is this something for which Clinton should be impeached, or not?"

Morin was the Post's polling director at the time, and he wrote the January 26, 1998, article reporting the poll results.

How is "If the president did not tell the truth about the Iraq war, should he be impeached?" a more biased question than the questions the Post -- under Morin's direction -- asked in 1998? They take precisely the same format: If X is true, should the president be impeached?

Howell owes readers more than flippant responses and broad assertions that the Post can't ask such questions because they are "biased"; she owes readers an explanation of why such questions can be asked about Democratic presidents but not Republican presidents. And she owes readers an explanation of why the Post won't report the Zogby polling results. After all, a June 3, 2002, Post article -- written by the very same Richard Morin that Howell cited -- described Zogby International as:

... among the most visible private survey companies in the country. Its client list includes congressional candidates from both parties as well as Microsoft and Cisco Systems, the U.S. Census Bureau, Chrysler Corp., State Farm Insurance, USA Today, the New York Post, Gannett News Service, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Fox Television Network.

While the Post has ignored the Zogby poll outside of Froomkin's online column, it recently mentioned a controversial RT Strategies poll in three articles in six days. The Post reported the RT Strategies poll results to a question about whether Democratic criticism of Bush's Iraq policy "HELPS the morale of our troops in Iraq or HURTS the morale of our troops in Iraq." In the interest of balance, perhaps the Post should ask in its own polling whether false claims by the Bush administration about why our troops have been sent to Iraq HELPS or HURTS their morale?

The media blackout on news about impeachment polling is particularly surprising given media commentary about the broader topic of impeachment.

Rothenberg Political Report editor Stuart Rothenberg wrote in a December 5 Roll Call column that, if Democrats talk about impeachment, they could suffer electoral losses as a result. Bizarrely, in a column about the public-opinion implications of talking about impeachment, Rothenberg didn't make a single mention of the publicly available polling on impeachment. Maybe that's because the polling doesn't support his assertions?

Like Rothenberg, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke also wrote a recent column dealing with the possibility of impeachment. Like Rothenberg, Kondracke ignored the available polling on the matter. And like Rothenberg, Kondracke noted the lack of public support for the Republican's 1998 impeachment of President Clinton. But in the process, Kondracke made a false claim about Clinton's 1998 approval ratings:

But in 1998, even though Clinton's approval rating descended as low as 39 percent after disclosures that he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Democrats gained five House seats after Republicans forecast that they would impeach him after the election - as they did.

"We overplayed our hand," said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who later became chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "The Democrats had better watch out that they don't do the same."

In fact, Clinton's 1998 approval rating didn't descend to anywhere near 39 percent; they stayed high throughout the year. Kondracke's false claim about Clinton's popularity creates the impression that Republicans "overplayed their hands," as Davis put it, by impeaching a very unpopular president -- which would, perhaps, be relevant given President Bush's current lack of popularity. But in fact Republicans "overplayed their hands" by impeaching a very popular president. Even aside from the substantive differences in the allegations and evidence against the two presidents, the situations simply aren't analogous.

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Hypothetically, if 99 percent of the population of this miserable, way too caught up in it's own trivial bullshit lives population we have, agreed with IMPEACHING THIS BASTARD, it would never happen without intervention from outer space or some other cogent, competent authority that didn't originate here on this continent. As long as these pieces of shit can sell gasoline a few cents cheaper thru the '06 election cycle, which they in-fact, will rig, just like the last one, nobody here will be demanding that the CRIMINALLY INSANE MURDEROUS BASTARD IN THE WHITE HOUSE ever be IMPEACHED. It's sad, but it's too very true, too.

I totally agree with every single word.

With the outrage of the lies told by the present administration. The useless loss of American lives gallantly serving in Iraq. The invasion of our personal civil liberties and rights It is time to make those responsible for this unlawful war put out of office and for the Bill of Rights to be upheld which both the President and Vice president are working so hard to destroy.

Put an end to this illegal and unjustified war. The current administration and their backers lied to the American People and are now trying to take away our civil liberties and rights. It is time that they were held responsible for their actions and the murder of our troops who have been sent over to Iraq based on lies and misinformation.
I am a Former Marine and to support our troops I must ask that they be returned immediately to their homes and families.
The real crime here falls on the heads of President Bush, VP Cheney and all those who backed and helped them to commit these grievous wrongs against the American People. It is time that the American People push for the Impeachment of both Bush and Cheney before we turn into the Fascist country that they are currently establishing. It is time for the American people to wake up and get out of there apathetic stance and fight for the return of rights and liberties that the Bill of Rights allow us to live by.

Fellow Americans,
PLEASE be advised that our patriotic founding fathers put all the follwing political-processes in place for ALL of us to exercise....
(1)-IMPEACHMENT,
(2)-FILIBUSTER,
(3)-VOTING....
If you do not exercise your muscles...they atrophy. If you don't let your representatives in DC. KNOW they won't get your vote when they try to run again, then the consequences will be visited upon your children and theirs, for generations to come.

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