Poll: 64 Percent Say Media Did 'Fair or Poor' Job as Watchdog in Year One of Obama

Here’s a poll we somehow missed. The First Amendment Center (an offshoot of the Gannett media company) went to Gallup for a poll of more than 1,000 adults around the anniversary of the Obama inauguration, and the results were released a few weeks ago. (Here's a PDF.) 

They asked "How do you rate the job the news media has done as a watchdog of government in the first year of the Obama administration?" The media didn’t get good marks: 34 percent said good or excellent, and 64 percent said fair or poor.

Eight percent said "excellent" and 26 percent said "good." But 37 percent said "fair" and 27 percent said "poor." Media defenders might argue that "fair" means something different (more positive) when judging the media, as opposed to politicians. But the respondent was still skipping "good" and "excellent."

When asked if the media are doing a better or worse job than in other administrations, 21 percent picked "better," 31 percent "checked worse," and 43 percent said "the same."

They asked which area the media had done the best job in reporting on the Obama team’s policies, but 30 percent picked "none of the above," compared to health care (24 percent), the economy (20 percent), wars (15 percent) and terrorism (6 percent).

The First Amendment Center news release offered this official response to the "none of the above" number, the response most NewsBusters writers and readers would offer:

There may be some 'kill the messenger' sentiment here, but the survey does remind us that the public — regardless of political party — looks to the news media to keep an eye on people in power," said Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center and the Newseum.

Earth to Paulson: please stop referring to media critics as "kill the messenger" types. You’re casting aspersions (like the public is violence-prone), not making some fine historical analogy.

It sounds Anna Quindlenesque.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis