Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh attacked survey results released on Wednesday that blamed Republicans for the federal shutdown while burying the news that President Barack Obama's approval ratings had plunged to 37 percent among Americans surveyed.
"The point is, once again, there is no media, there is no news," the conservative host said, according to a transcript of his afternoon program.
"This is the Democrat Party with activists disguised as journalists. Thirty-seven percent approval.
"And it's not some outlier poll," Limbaugh continued. "You have to read over halfway down into that story to learn that. I haven't seen it anywhere else. It's been on AP, but have you seen anybody else pick that up? It's just classic."
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The article was on the Associated Press-GfK survey of 1,227 probable voters conducted Oct. 3-7, with a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.
"Americans are holding Republicans primarily responsible for the partial government shutdown as public esteem sinks for all players in the impasse, President Barack Obama among them, according to a new poll," the report began. "It's a struggle with no heroes."
The article then disclosed that 62 percent of respondents "mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown" and that "the poll found that the tea party is more than a gang of malcontents in the political landscape, as its supporters in Congress have been portrayed by Democrats.
"Rather, it's a sizable — and divisive — force among Republicans," the AP report said.
But in the seventh paragraph appears the first — and only — reference to Obama's new approval ratings: "Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it.
"Congress is scraping rock bottom, with a ghastly approval rating of 5 percent."
The report was published by such mainstream media outlets as The Washington Post
, The Huffington Post
, and National Public Radio
The information appeared in the seventh paragraph of The Huffington Post's story and in the eighth paragraph of those published in The Washington Post and on NPR.
Limbaugh charged that such coverage was wrong about what was actually occurring in Washington.
"If you are a conservative media guy inside the Beltway, you're convinced that Obama's winning everything," he said. "If you're a conservative media guy inside the Beltway and you're subjected to that narrative each and every day, you think the Republicans are really getting shellacked. You think they're taking it on the chin.
"It's the exact opposite," Limbaugh said. "It's the exact opposite of what's happening outside the Beltway."
"The president's at 37 percent. The shutdown is going on. Now we learn that five military families were insulted profoundly with the way the deaths of their service-member relatives were treated.
"It is obvious that this administration is acting purposely to inconvenience and to harm people it considers its political enemies," Limbaugh said.
Further, Limbaugh contrasted the coverage of Obama's new 37 percent rating with coverage by Wolf Blitzer of CNN of its poll on March 13, 2006, when Republican President George W. Bush's rating hit a new low of 36 percent.
"The president's job-approval rating has taken a downward turn again, falling to only 36 percent," the Blitzer excerpt began, according to the Limbaugh transcript. "This represents his lowest rating ever in the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll … The president's poll numbers are pretty bad, pretty awful right now, rock bottom …"
"Today, Barack Obama's approval number's at 37 percent, and they are not talking about it," Limbaugh said Wednesday. "The AP story in which that poll result is announced has the following headline: "Poll: GOP Gets the Blame in Shutdown." They have a poll that shows that 71 percent of the American people are blaming the Republicans for the shutdown.
"In the same poll, 50 percent are blaming the Democrats for something, but the media says: ''Look, 20 percent spread. Boy, the Republicans are really taking it on the chin for the government shutdown.' But the poll does not say people are upset with the shutdown.
"It's journalistic malpractice," Limbaugh concluded, "except it's not — because it's not journalism."
Among other findings, the AP poll showed that more than 4 in 10 Republicans identified with the tea party and were more apt than other Republicans to insist that their leaders hold firm in the standoff over reopening government and avoiding a default of the nation's debt in coming weeks.
Indeed, the poll showed that everyone making headlines in the dispute has earned poor marks for their trouble, whether Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, or Republican John Boehner, the House speaker, both with favorability ratings of 18 percent.
And much of the country draws a blank on Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas despite his 21-hour Senate speech before the shutdown. Only half of the poll respondents were familiar enough with him to register an opinion. Among those who did, 32 percent viewed him unfavorably, 16 percent favorably.
Other findings in the AP Poll:
- Sixty-eight percent said the shutdown is a major problem for the country, including majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (82 percent) and independents (57 percent).
- Fifty-two percent said Obama is not doing enough to cooperate with Republicans to end the shutdown; 63 percent say Republicans aren't doing enough to cooperate with him.
- Republicans are split on just how much cooperation they want. Among those who do not back the tea party, fully 48 percent say their party should be doing more with Obama to find a solution. But only 15 percent of tea-party Republicans want that outreach. The vast majority of them say GOP leaders are doing what they should with the president, or should do even less with him.
- People seem conflicted or confused about the showdown over the debt limit. Six in 10 predict an economic crisis if the government's ability to borrow isn't renewed later this month with an increase in the debt limit — an expectation widely shared by economists. Yet only 30 percent say they support raising the limit; 46 percent were neutral on the question.
- More than 4 in 5 poll respondents felt no personal impact from the shutdown. For those who did, thwarted vacations to national parks, difficulty getting work done without federal contacts at their desks, and hitches in government benefits were among the complaints.
"So frustrating," Martha Blair, 71, of Kerrville, Texas, said of the fiscal paralysis as her scheduled national parks vacation sits in limbo. "Somebody needs to jerk those guys together to get a solution, instead of just saying no."
Blair's nine-day trip to national parks with a tour group won't happen if the parks are still closed next month. "I'm concerned," she said, "but it seems kind of trivial to people who are being shut out of work."
In Mount Prospect, Ill., Barbara Olpinski, 51, a Republican who blames Obama and both parties for the shutdown, said her family is already seeing an impact and that will worsen if the impasse goes on. She's an in-home elderly-care director, her daughter is a physician's assistant at a rural clinic that treats patients who rely on government coverage, and her husband is a doctor who can't get flu vaccines for patients on public assistance because deliveries have stopped.
"People don't know how they are going to pay for things, and what will be covered," she said. "Everybody is kind of like holding their wallets."
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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