Majority of Americans View Media Coverage of Iraq as Inaccurate

by Frank Newport

Most likely to say coverage is too negative

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A majority of Americans -- 56% -- believe that the news media's coverage of the situation in Iraq is generally inaccurate. About 4 out of 10 Americans agree that the news media's coverage of the Iraq war is accurate.

These results are based on a question included in a late December Gallup Poll Panel survey of a representative sample of Americans.

Of course, Americans who believe that media coverage of the situation in Iraq is inaccurate could either believe that the media are painting too rosy of a picture of what is going on there. Or they could believe that the news media are painting too negative a picture (as has often been argued by the Bush administration and others who support the Iraq war).

To analyze these possibilities in more detail, the survey asked those who felt that the coverage was inaccurate to indicate if this belief was based on a perception that the media make the situation in Iraq look better than it actually is, or worse than it actually is.

(Asked of those who say news media have been providing an inaccurate account of the situation in Iraq) Do you think the news media's coverage of the situation in Iraq makes it appear to be -- [ROTATED: better than it actually is, (or) worse than it actually is]?

BASED ON 569 ADULTS WHO SAY THE NEWS MEDIA HAVE BEEN PROVIDING AN INACCURATE ACCOUNT OF THE SITUATION IN IRAQ

 

 

Better than actually is

Worse than actually is

No opinion

       

2006 Dec 18-20

36%

61

2

As can be seen, by a 61% to 36% margin, those who feel that the Iraq coverage is inaccurate say it is because the media make the situation there appear worse than it actually is.

Putting responses to the two questions together yields the following results:

COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.6-7): BASED ON FULL SAMPLE

 

 

2006 Dec 18-20

%

News media provide accurate account of situation in Iraq

41

   

News media provide inaccurate account of situation in Iraq

56

(Make situation appear better than it actually is)

(20)

(Make situation appear worse than it actually is)

(35)

(Unsure)

(1)

   

No opinion

3

About one-third of Americans believe that the news media present too negative a picture of what is happening in Iraq; one out of five believe that the news media present too positive a picture, and the rest say that news media coverage is about right or have no opinion.

There are predictable patterns of responses by the political orientation of respondents.

 

Generally speaking, do you think the news media have been providing an accurate or inaccurate account of the situation in Iraq?

 

Republicans

Independents

Democrats

 

%

%

%

Accurate

25

42

55

Inaccurate, make situation appear better

5

25

32

Inaccurate, make situation appear worse

67

29

8

Two-thirds of Republicans believe that the news media's coverage of Iraq is both inaccurate and makes the situation there appear worse. Only one-quarter say that news media coverage is accurate.

On the other hand, a majority of Democrats (55%) say that news media coverage of the situation there is accurate, with most of the rest saying that it is inaccurate and biased toward making the situation there appear better than it really is.

Independents' views on the issue are between the two extremes of Republicans and Democrats.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,013 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 18-20, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±4 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 569 adults who say the news media have been providing an inaccurate account of the situation in Iraq, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/26038/Majority-Americans-View-Media-Coverage-Iraq-Inaccurate.aspx
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