The WikiLeaks scandal has renewed debate over the scope of the First Amendment. Should those who publish confidential or secret U.S. government documents be prosecuted, or are they protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press? According to this national McClatchy-Marist Poll, nearly six in ten U.S. adult residents — 59% — think the publication of top secret documents is cause for prosecution while 31% say publishers are protected by their First Amendment rights. One in ten — 10% — are unsure.
Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to say that individuals who publish confidential documents should be prosecuted. While the majority of younger Americans believe they should be protected, 66% of residents 45 and older believe that prosecution is warranted against WikiLeaks. 52% of those under 30 believe they should be protected under the First Amendment.
70% of Americans think WikiLeaks is doing more harm than good by allowing enemies of the U.S. to see confidential and secret information about foreign policy. This includes 64% of those under 30 years of age. 22% believe WikiLeaks is doing more good than harm by promoting transparency and accountability in the nation’s foreign policy. Eight percent are unsure.
Almost Half Aware of WikiLeaks Controversy
49% of residents nationally have heard, at least, a good amount about the WikiLeaks scandal. In contrast, 50% know little, nothing at all, or are unsure about it.
Again, age and gender are factors. Those 45 and older — 58% — and men — 56% — are more likely to have some knowledge of the issue than are those younger than 45 — 37% — and women — 44%.