May 25, 2010
5/25: The Press & the President
Is today’s news media fair in its coverage of President Barack Obama? Nearly half of Americans — 49% — think so. 38% believe they are unfair, and 13% are unsure. Similar proportions of registered voters nationally have these views.
Not surprisingly, there is a partisan divide. 48% of Democrats think the media’s coverage of President Obama is fair while 48% of Republicans think it is unfair. Independents are more likely to view the press as fair in its coverage of the president than unfair.
Women give the press more credit than do men. A majority of women — 52% — compared with 47% of men believe the political press gives Obama a fair deal.
49% of Americans also say the quality of the press’ questions is about right in its toughness. This compares with 37% who believe they are not tough enough and just 5% who report they are too tough. 9% are unsure. Looking at registered voters, half think the press’ questions are on the mark, and 38% say they are too soft. 5% believe they are too tough. 7% are unsure.
Here, too, there is a difference of opinion between the parties. While 72% of Democrats believe the press’ questions are tough enough, 60% of Republicans say they are not asking the president the hard questions. Independents divide with 45% saying journalists ask the right kinds of questions and 44% reporting their questions are softballs.
What about the fairness factor? Not surprisingly, of those Americans who generally believe the press is fair in its coverage of President Obama, six in ten think the press’ questions are about right in their toughness. But, those who say the press treats the president unfairly are more divided with 44% reporting their questions are not tough enough and 40% saying they are about right.
Table: Fairness of Press Toward President Obama
Table: Toughness of Journalists’ Questions