Let me just start out with the facts: The Economist/YouGov published the results of a poll this week that surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults between March 10–14 on a number of different topics, mostly about people’s feelings on the state of the country.
A few of the questions touched on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), asking respondents about how favorably they saw him generally and his performance as speaker of the House. Two questions asked about the issue of McCarthy giving Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and his production team exclusive access to all the internal Jan. 6 Capitol security footage for him to use to spread propaganda on his propaganda show. The survey asked if those polled had heard about the issue and if they approved or disapproved of it. The split in approval versus disapproval was relatively close.
In total, 42 percent of respondents said they approved of the move, with 23 percent indicating they “strongly” approved and 19 percent saying they “somewhat” approved. Thirty-eight percent didn’t agree with McCarthy’s decision and 21 percent were “not sure” — presumably well-balanced humans that don’t follow this stuff. The split among political ideology was predictable, with 53 percent of Democrats disapproving and 61 percent of Republicans approving.
McCarthy had a meh approval rating overall, with 41 percent approving and 34 percent disapproving.
None of this is mind-blowing stuff. If anything, I thought the “not sure” answer to the Jan. 6 tapes dilemma might be higher.
But the far-right, Steve Bannon-founded media site Breitbart seized upon the results of the survey to write a fawning post that not only declared that Americans strongly approve of McCarthy’s decision to give the nation’s top Jan. 6 denier all the footage he needs in his quest to convince Americans that the violent insurrection was NBD, but also that McCarthy — who barely holds on to his thin majority and whose speakership is held hostage by the far-right caucus — is Doing A Really Great Job And Everyone Likes Him More Than Paul Ryan.
I can’t blame the far-right outlet for doing things that appeal to their audience but the headline combined with the deeply mediocre figures are rich on their own. And the package is made especially laughable in the face of the facts. McCarthy went through about 100 rounds of voting for a week straight and had to meet conspiracy theory-laced demands and make painfully cringe concessions in order to just barely get the votes he needed to become speaker. And not only are the Matt Gaetzs and Lauren Boeberts of his caucus the ones who are actually in charge now, but they also have no problem criticizing McCarthy out loud and in public.
Even more: Once Tucker’s patently false narrative about Jan. 6 was broadcast on Fox last week, the majority of serious Republicans were quick to publicly whack McCarthy for handing over the footage in the first place.
The Best Of TPM Today
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What We Are Reading
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