By 5-to-1 Public Thinks Most Journalists Trying to Help Elect Obama

A week after a Rasmussen Reports survey discovered that by a ten-to-one margin the public believes the media are trying to hurt Sarah Palin, a new Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters, briefly highlighted Wednesday night on FNC's Hannity & Colmes, determined “69 percent remain convinced that reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and this year by a nearly five-to-one margin voters believe they are trying to help Barack Obama.” Specifically, “50 percent of voters think most reporters are trying to help Obama win versus 11 percent who believe they are trying to help his Republican opponent John McCain” with 26 percent saying “reporters offer unbiased coverage.”

Even amongst Democrats, more think journalists are aiding Democrat Obama than Republican McCain: “While 83 percent of Republican voters think most reporters are trying to help Obama, 19 percent of Democrats agree, one percentage point higher than the number of Democrats who believe they are trying to help McCain.” Most telling, “unaffiliated voters by a 53 percent to 10 percent margin see reporters trying to help Obama.”

Matching the overall public perception of a pro-Obama media, “45 percent of Democrats say most reporters are providing unbiased coverage in the current presidential campaign, but only 20 percent of unaffiliateds and nine percent (9%) of Republicans agree.”

For Rasmussen's full summary of the poll taken on September 8 and released on September 10, see: “69% Say Reporters Try to Help the Candidate They Want to Win.” An excerpt with other findings:

....Voters from both parties...are skeptical of media bias in general. Eighty-six percent (86%) of Republicans think reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and a plurality of Democrats (49%) believe that, too. Seventy-four percent (74%) of unaffiliated voters agree.

Only 21% of voters overall say reporters try to offer unbiased coverage....

Among all voters, 57% believe Obama has received the best treatment by the media, while 21% say McCain has been treated best. Only nine percent (9%) believe the media has been most favorable to Senator Hillary Clinton, who was Obama's closest rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Forty-two percent (42%) think reporters would hide information that hurts the candidate they want to win, but 34% do not agree. But there's a partisan divide here: While 63% of likely McCain voters believe reporters would hide information harmful to the candidate they favor, 52% of potential Obama voters do not agree....
The new Rasmussen survey echoes two other recent polls, one by Rasmussen and one by Fox News. My September 4 NewsBusters item, “Poll: By 10-to-1 Public Says Reporters 'Trying to Hurt Palin,'” recounted:
"Over half of U.S. voters (51%) think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin with their news coverage, and 24% say those stories make them more likely to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in November," Rasmussen Reports announced Thursday in posting survey results which determined "just five percent (5%) think reporters are trying to help her with their coverage, while 35 percent believe reporters are providing unbiased coverage." In Thursday's "Grapevine" segment, FNC's Brit Hume highlighted the findings from the poll of 1,000 "likely voters."

By wide margins, more Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters see the media as trying to hurt rather than trying to help Palin. For Republicans it's 80 to 6 percent, for Democrats 28 to 4 percent (with 57 percent believing reporting is unbiased) and for unaffiliated voters it's 49 to 5 percent.
And my July 25 posting, “Fox Poll: Two-Thirds Recognize Journalists Want Obama to Win,” reported:
Just days after a Rasmussen Reports survey was released showing more than three times as many likely voters "believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage" than help John McCain, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll taken July 22-23 of 900 registered voters discovered six times as many think "most member of the media" want Obama to win than wish for a McCain victory. On Thursday's Special Report, FNC's Brit Hume relayed: "67 percent of the respondents think most media members want Obama to win. Just 11 percent think most in the media are for McCain."

A FoxNews.com article added this damning finding: "Only about 1 in 10 (11 percent) volunteers the belief that the media is neutral on the race to become the 44th President of the United States." Those polled recognize the tilt in action: "When asked to rate the objectivity of media coverage of the campaigns, Americans feel Obama gets more of a positive spin by a better than 7-to-1 margin (46 percent more positive toward Obama; 6 percent more positive toward McCain)."
The "How the Public Views the Media" section of the MRC's "Media Bias Basics" lists many more surveys of how the public perceive journalists and the news media.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center