Media "Out of Line" With Drug Questions

By Scott Hogenson | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - Texas Governor George Bush is trying to lay to rest an issue that shouldn't even be pursued, according to the latest poll by

70 percent of those participating in the on-line survey August 19 and 20 said that the media's treatment of Bush and the drug issue was "out of line and uncalled for."

There had been insinuations that Bush used cocaine as a younger man, and the governor has issued a variety of denials, several of which were couched in specific time frames.

Of those taking part in the poll, 20 percent said the innuendo about drug use by Bush was "fair game" and should be pursued. During a campaign appearance in Ohio Friday, the press further pursued the issue and Bush was again asked about drug use, however, he deflected the questions.

Coverage of the issue dominated television news reports Thursday evening and Friday morning, with all broadcast TV networks running at least one story on it. The Media Research Center, a Washington, D.C. media watchdog group, noted in its Friday Cyber Alert that on Thursday evening, " NBC Nightly News spent over five minutes on the
subject and ABC's World News Tonight gave it three and a half minutes."

The report observed that coverage by those two networks of Bush and the drug issue was "exactly five minutes and three and a half minutes more time than the two shows devoted in February or early March to Juanita Broaddrick's charge that Bill Clinton raped her," according to the MRC, the parent organization of

Broaddrick claimed that Clinton, as attorney general of Arkansas, raped her in a Little Rock hotel room. Many aspects of the charge were verified by independent sources, but there's no direct evidence of the alleged crime. Clinton has never denied the charge, but one of his lawyers has.

By contrast, no one has accused Bush of having used drugs and there currently is no evidence that he did. However, Bush has not flatly denied the question, which has fueled media speculation on the issue.

On Thursday, Bush campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker told that the candidate considers the question asked and answered, saying future responses from Bush will take the form of a succinct "I've addressed that."

One tenth of the respondents to the survey said they were not certain about the media's coverage of Bush regarding drugs.

The survey permits one vote from any given computer terminal and is not considered scientific. It is considered a reflection of the opinions of viewers, 69 percent of whom are self-identified Republicans and 94 percent of whom say they intend to vote in the 2000 elections, according to Bulletin Board registration data.