Gibbs: American People and Cable News Not on Same Page with Stimulus


White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that the American public and cable news may not be on the same page when it comes to the economic stimulus package.

That came in a press gaggle on Air Force One as the president headed to Elkhart, Indiana. According to a transcript, when asked about whether the White House had done polling on where the country was on the package, which he said “may not necessarily be where cable television is on all of this. But, you know, we’re sort of used to that. We lost on cable television virtually every day last year. So, you know, there’s a conventional wisdom to what’s going on in America via Washington, and there’s the reality of what’s happening in America.”

He did not elaborate on what he meant by losing “every day” on cable TV last year, but did say that he thought there was a “myopic” view in Washington and that the president, by going to Elkhart was “taking Washington to show them what’s going on in Indiana and all over the country -and why people are hurting.”

Gibbs comment did come in the wake of a content analysis from progressive group ThinkProgress that asserted that on the five main cable news networks, Republican members talking about the economic recovery bill outnumbered Democrats by a ratio of 2 to 1 over a three-week period. A newer analysis found a similar, if slightly improved, imbalance, with 75 Republicans to 41 Democrats featured from Monday, Feb. 2 through Thursday, Feb. 5, though MSNBC became the only one to feature more Democrats than Republicans (17 to 12).

The week before, Fox had been the closest to fair and balanced, said the group, with eight Republicans to two Democrats.

The group said that the difference would have been even more lopsided if the study had also broken out the appearances by whether the legislator supported or criticized the stimulus plan. It said that some of the Democratic guests were among the most outspoken critics, including Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Kent Conrad (D-ND).