Exhibit 2-16: Public Reaction to Media Coverage of the 2008 Primaries
During the 2008 primary season, a Pew Research Center poll of 1,000 Americans discovered that most thought 'press coverage has favored Barack Obama than thought it has favored Hillary Clinton.' Earlier, a Rasmussen poll of 800 likely voters taken after the New York Times published a front-page story insinuating that Republican Senator John McCain had engaged in an extramarital affair found that two-thirds believed it was not 'simply reporting the news,' but 'an attempt by the paper to hurt the McCain campaign.'
Rasmussen found 'just 24% of American voters have a favorable opinion of the New York Times. Forty-four percent (44%) have an unfavorable opinion and 31% are not sure.' Voters were split by ideology: 50 percent of liberals were fans of the Times, while 69 percent of conservative voters had an unfavorable view.
'Of those who followed' the Times story about McCain's supposed extramarital affair, '66% believe it was an attempt by the paper to hurt the McCain campaign. Just 22% believe the Times was simply reporting the news.'
'Republicans, by an 87% to 9% margin, believe the paper was trying to hurt McCain's chances of winning the White House. Democrats are evenly divided.'
At the end of the primary season in June, Pew discovered that 'nearly four-in-ten (37%) say that in covering the Democratic race, news organizations have been biased toward Obama while just 8% say they have been biased toward Clinton.'
'Substantial minorities of Republicans (45%) and independents (40%) say the press has been biased toward Obama; somewhat fewer Democrats (35%) see a pro-Obama bias.'
Looking at the media's overall approach to the presidential campaign up to that point, Pew found the public mainly disapproving: 'Most Americans (54%) say the coverage has been only fair or poor, compared with 43% who rate it as excellent or good.'