Poll: Pelosi Gets More Support Than CIA In Dispute

06/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Greg Sargent highlights a Rasmussen poll today that indicates that after several days of the media flogging Nancy Pelosi's inept press conference and the attendant spat with the Central Intelligence Agency that ensued, public opinion remains more or less split, with a slight edge going to the Speaker of the House:

How likely is it that the CIA misled Pelosi about the use of waterboarding when interrogating prisoners?

20% Very likely

23% Somewhat likely

19% Not very likely

22% Not at all likely

16% Not sure

As Sargent notes:

Strikingly, this is almost completely at odds with the way the traditional news orgs have covered this dispute. Most have focused almost entirely on the doubts the competing claims of Pelosi and the CIA cast on Pelosi's credibility, with very few giving anywhere near the same level of scrutiny to the ways in which the CIA's credibility is now in question.

I'd say, for the time being, keep watching for any shifts in these numbers. And, more importantly, keep watching for whether the amplification of this sideshow tamps down or increases the widespread agitation for investigations into torture.

To that end, Matt Yglesias has an excellent piece in today's Daily Beast, in which he maintains that while the GOP's focus on Pelosi has been a classic news-cycle victory, it's likely to increase the likelihood of the outcome they don't want - full-blown investigations:

Various conservative commentators have expressed their hope that gunning for Pelosi will blunt progressive calls for a "truth commission" to thoroughly investigate what really happened on Bush's trip to the "dark side". Fox's Neil Cavuto said we might be in a "Mexican standoff" wherein Pelosi would agree to drop the idea of investigations to prevent herself from attracting scrutiny. Steven Hayes, Dick Cheney's official biographer, said, "Democrats who have been so enthusiastic about truth commissions have to be stopping and saying, OK, wait a second." What conservatives are missing here is that this is a fight they were winning before they started gunning for Pelosi. Their best ally in this fight was Barack Obama, whose desire to "move forward" rather than focusing on the past had been the subject of much consternation. Had conservatives simply reached out to grab the hand that was being extended to them, they could have gotten what they wanted.

But in their zeal to score a tactical win, the right has made a truth commission more likely not less likely.

An oft-ignored part of the Pelosi-CIA story is that despite being touched - and potentially threatened - by this controversy, Pelosi has continued to strongly advocate for a Truth Commission. And as Yglesias points out, "by suggesting that Pelosi could be a target of an investigation, conservatives have helped cleanse the idea of the odor of victor's justice."

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