Because the news media's role was so central to the 2008 presidential campaign, Rasmussen Reports posed several questions on public perceptions of the media throughout the campaign. Besides the question of whether voters thought the media were favoring Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain (which we report elsewhere), Rasmussen discovered a notable lack of trust by voters in the media's professionalism and objectivity:
Journalists Out to 'Hurt' Palin: A September 4 Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters found more than half (51%) 'think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin with their news coverage, and 24% say those stories make them more likely to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in November....Just five percent (5%) think reporters are trying to help her with their coverage,' a greater than ten-to-one disparity.
Many See Media As Unethical: A September 10 Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters found that a plurality of voters (42%) believe the press would 'hide information that hurts the candidate they want to win,' compared to 34 percent who think reporters would act professionally. The same survey found the media were less trusted than personal sources: '46% of voters say they most trust information about the presidential campaign from family and friends as opposed to 32% who trust the information from news reporters more.'
Little Faith in Economic Reporting: A July 21, 2008 Rasmussen poll of 1,000 adults found that exactly half, '50%, believe the media makes economic conditions appear worse than they really are....Only a quarter (25%) think reporters and media outlets present an accurate picture of the economy and 18% believe they actually portray it as better than it is. Just 34% trust reporters more when it comes to news on the economy, and 32% see stockbrokers as more reliable.'
Media Bias Worse than Campaign Cash: An August 11, 2008 Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters found that '55% believe media bias is more of a problem than big campaign contributions. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and think that campaign cash is a bigger problem. People believe media bias is a bigger problem even though 63% believe most politicians will break the rules to help campaign contributors.'
That same poll found little interest in further elevating the media's role: 'Just 22% believe it would be a good idea to ban all campaign commercials so that voters could receive information on the campaign only from the news media and the Internet. Sixty-six percent (66%) disagree and think that, despite the annoyance factor, it's better to put up with an election-year barrage of advertising rather than rely on the news media.'