Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Poll: Public Believes Coverage Was Evenhanded

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Poll: Public Believes Coverage Was Evenhanded

Article excerpt

Most Americans believe that press coverage of the Monica Lewinsky affair and the impeachment of President Clinton was fair, according to a poll released by the Freedom Forum last week. But results indicate that the public believes the media could have done better.

The survey also showed that, as of late March, only four percent of those polled said they were still "very interested" in the story, while 59% said they were "not at all interested." This compares with 19% who were very interested in the Kosovo situation (before the recent airstrikes), 34% who were still very interested in the Y2K problem, and 68% who were still very interested in the future of social security.

The poll, conducted between March 8 and March 22 by the Freedom Forum's Media Studies Center, included phone interviews with 1,001 American adults. Results were released last week and showed that 63% of those surveyed ranked coverage of Clinton as fair, while 63% said Lewinsky also received fair treatment from the media. The same poll indicated that 67% thought Linda Tripp received fair coverage, while 69% believed that the press gave balanced reporting to Hillary Clinton.

"The public is not without its criticisms of the coverage of the Clinton/Lewinsky story but lack of fairness is not among them," says Robert Giles, executive director of the Media Studies Center. "As far as the public is concerned, the news media did not play favorites in its scrutiny of the major players in this story."

Other results in the poll showed that 61% of those surveyed felt that independent prosecutor Ken Starr received fair coverage, while 59% felt that first daughter Chelsea Clinton was the subject of balanced reporting.

But respondents also suggested ways that coverage could have been improved, with the chief recommendation being less reporting. …

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