ABC's Jon Karl: GOP Taking 'Biggest Hit' in Poll, Downplays Bad News for Obama

The journalists at Good Morning America on Tuesday hyped bad news for the GOP, citing a poll showing disapproval of the party's handling of the recent government shutdown. But the show's reporters downplayed and ignored ominous results for the President and his health care law. George Stephanopoulos trumpeted that Republicans are "taking the biggest hit."

Journalist Jon Karl allowed that the survey finds Americans disapprove of how "everyone handled the shutdown crisis, including the President." Stealing Stephanopoulos's line, he asserted that the GOP is "taking the biggest hit." Karl added, "Seventy seven percent disapproving of how [Republicans] handled the budget talks that led to this crisis." [MP3 audio here.] What was left out of Karl's story? Any mention that Barack Obama's approval rating has dropped to just 46 percent. In the wake of the shutdown, 51 percent of registered voters now disapprove.

Although Stephanopoulos and Karl danced around the bad news for Democrats, they didn't get into specifics. Writing about the poll in the Washington Post, journalists Dan Balz and Scott Clement revealed:

Congressional Democrats also sustained damage to their image. More than six in 10 respondents disapprove of how they handled budget negotiations, and unfavorable ratings of the party have risen to a record high of 49 percent.

Instead of revealing this, Stephanopoulos vaguely offered, "No good news for anyone in Washington."

The ABC journalists also avoided bad news for ObamaCare's popularity. Time magazine trumpeted the new poll as meaning, "Americans losing faith in ObamaCare."

Writer Kate Pickert explained:

While President Obama sought to reassure the public in a speech on Monday that exchange-website malfunctions were being fixed, a separate poll found that many believe technical problems plaguing the websites may indicate that the entire law is broken. A Washington Post–ABC News poll conducted Oct 17 to 20 and released Oct. 21 found that 56% of those surveyed believed the "website glitches" are "part of a broader problem with the health care law."

On Monday's program, the journalists at GMA admitted "massive technical glitches" with the ObamaCare website and declared it a "bust." On Tuesday, Karl covered the plans for a "tech surge" on the website, but noted, " We asked who and the White House refers to us HHS. They say they don't have a specific list on who is coming in to help out. "

Overall, however, the problems with the website were placed back on a lower level of importance. They were given only a few seconds in the Karl piece and a brief follow-up in the 8am hour. 

A transcript of the October 22 segment is below:


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn to the latest fallout from the government shutdown. A brand new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows what we all think about Congress has hit a record low. Only 12 percent approve. Eighty five percent are unhappy about it. ABC'S Jonathan Karl is in Washington with more on the poll and President Obama latest attempt to fix the problems with his health care plan. And Jon, let's begin with the poll. No good news for anyone in Washington. But Republicans taking the biggest hit.

JON KARL: That's right, George. This poll shows that the public disapproves of how everyone handled the shutdown crisis, including the President and Democrats in Congress. But as you say, Republicans taking the biggest hit. Look at this. Seventy seven percent disapproving of how they handled the budget talks that led to this crisis. And, George, this next number should strike fear into the hearts of incumbents everywhere. Only 25– or 21 percent said that they are inclined– sorry, 25 percent, inclined to re-elect their member of Congress. Sixty six percent saying they want to look around.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Look for big changes right there. Meanwhile, President Obama, out there in the Rose Garden yesterday, talking about his health care plan. So many problems with the early launch of that. The President says, no one's madder about him about it. But he didn't give a lot of details about the fix.

KARL: That's right. The President said and the White House has talked about a tech surge, bringing in the best and the brightest of the computer world to help fix this problem. But we asked who and the White House refers to us HHS. They say they don't have a specific list on who is coming in to help out. And George, Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary at the top of all this, was asked to testify before Congress. She declined, citing scheduling reasons. But she will be on Capitol Hill next week and I suspect we'll have some more answers.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah. And she will get a grilling there. Okay, Jon Karl, thanks very much.

— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.