- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Imagine when Pharaoh heard that another plague was en route; or when Phillip II got word of the Armada; or when the bridge on the Titanic felt that terrible jolt. Now, imagine CBS's Dan Rather when he heard the news that a CBS poll on President Bush's first address to Congress had a whopping 88 percent of Americans nodding in approval of Mr. Bush's proposals, with a hefty majority 67 percent saying they favored Mr. Bush's $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan.

Armada-Arshmada. Here was a real cataclysm. At least, it sure seems to have struck Dan Rather that way. What else explains the fact that the longtime anchorman never reported on the results of his own network's poll to CBS viewers? Thanks to the news analysts at the Media Research Center, who first reported this glaring omission at mediaresearch.com, the Rather-approved version of events as broadcast by the CBS Evening News is available for consideration. If fairness and balance are the reporting ideal, these broadcasts are not a pretty sight.

For his initial report on the Bush speech, Mr. Rather determined, imperiously enough, that two women in a coffee shop represented a more accurate measure of the national mood than the CBS poll findings, professionally derived from a random, nationwide sample of 978 adults. Framing the debate between Mr. Bush on the one side and "Democrats and some independent economists [who] believe the Bush push is risky business," Mr. Rather introduced CBS White House correspondent John Roberts.

"The debate now is over which way to go Mr. Bush's plan or the Democrats' proposal for smaller, targeted tax cuts," said Mr. Roberts. "At the Stage Right Cafe in Omaha, where the sarcasm runs as strong as the coffee, they've heard all the talk about tax cuts."

Lady: "Some people think it's too small. Some people think it's too big. And some people think it's just right. Isn't that what it was?"

Mr. Roberts: "What do you think?"

Lady: "I think it could probably be reduced."

Mr. Roberts: "Jane Dill believes if Mr. Bush can hold the line on spending, his tax cut could work. But Sue Kilgarin fears the president is rolling the dice on eight years of success just for political gain."

Miss Kilgarin: "I think a big tax cut is just a real feather in someone's cap."

The next night, Mr. Rather again threw ice water on the Bush plan, pouring on all the Democratic talking points by way of introducing John Roberts again, this time to report on "new polls" unnamed that "show voters leaning slightly in favor of the Democratic plan." As the Media Research Center wondered, "When does CBS News promote a competitor's poll instead of its own? When its own inconveniently determined people overwhelmingly favored President Bush's tax cut plan." At best, you might say the longtime anchorman displayed a fairly limp nose for news, but it certainly looks as if reporting the facts was less important to him than slanting them.

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