Friday, March 30, 2007

Memo To Time Inc.

Well, check out what we've just obtained: An internal memo from Time mag's research department to the mag's managing editor, Rick Stengel! How about that?
TO: Richard Stengel Time magazine Managing editor
FROM: Time magazine research department
RE: Your request for information about American attitudes towards Democratic investigations into GOP malfeasance

Dear Mr. Stengel:
Thank you for your request. We recognize, as you suggested in your earlier memo to us, that the many factual rebuttals and criticism of your recent assertion that an aggressive Democratic investigation into Karl Rove would be bad for Dems has produced on your part an urgency for some hard information about this matter. So we've endeavored to get this to you as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, in addition to the earlier polls many have written about, there are now two new polls that support the idea that the American public is broadly supportive of aggressive Democratic investigations into GOP malfeasance, both in a general and specific sense.
First, here's a new CBS poll that finds that there's indeed broad public interest in the U.S. Attorney firings story:
The CBS News poll finds that just half of Americans are following the news about the firing of several U.S. Attorneys but 40% say Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign, while 25% say he should not and 35% are not sure. Among those who say they are following the story closely, 55% think Gonzales should resign.
In the judgment of our researchers, CBS' use of the "just half" language is misleading. We judge that this is a striking finding giving how technically complicated this story is. Though we can't be entirely conclusive about this, we judge that the fact that sentiment is running strongly in favor of the view that Gonzales should resign -- combined with the high public interest in the story -- strongly suggest public support for aggressive Dem probes into these matters. After all, if large numbers want him to resign and hence think he did something wrong, it's reasonable to assume they'd look favorably on efforts to uncover such wrongdoing.
Here, meanwhile, is a second poll from Pew Research, just out this afternoon, that directly addresses these questions. It says:
The Democrats' stepped-up pace of investigations has not drawn much in the way of negative reaction. Just 31% believe Congress is spending too much time investigating possible government wrongdoing, while slightly more (35%) say they are spending too little time on this, and a quarter believe that the time spent on investigations has been appropriate...
In addition, more independents say Congress is spending too little time on investigations than too much (by 39%-29%). Roughly the same number of Democrats as independents say Congress is devoting too little time to investigations.
Though this poll was highlighted by one of your blogospheric critics, our researchers judge that he was right to draw attention to it. As you can see, it says that while less than a third (31%) think too much time is being spent on investigations, a substantial majority (60%) think either an appropriate amount of time or too little time is being spent on them. Also note that more people think too little time is being spent than think too much is.
In sum, our judgment is that the vast preponderance of evidence suggests that it's difficult to sustain the view that the American people are predisposed towards a negative view of such aggressive Congressional oversight. Incidentally, if you would allow us an observation outside our role for a moment, it is also our judgment that you are nonetheless on fairly safe ground repeating your initial point, even if it's factually unsustainable, since it is unlikely to attract much attention from reporters or commentators at the big news organizations and is unlikely to be rebutted in any serious way beyond the liberal blogosphere. (Though we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that you have come under some criticism from a former Time.com writer, Andrew Sullivan.)
We hope this information has been useful to you; as always, should you choose not to use it, we will keep this memo confidential. Please let us know if we can be of more assistance.

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