Exhibit 2-16: Public Reaction to Media Coverage of the 2008 Primaries

During the 2008 primary season, a Pew Research Center poll of 1,000 Americans discovered that most thought “press coverage has favored Barack Obama than thought it has favored Hillary Clinton.” Earlier, a Rasmussen poll of 800 likely voters taken after the New York Times published a front-page story insinuating that Republican Senator John McCain had engaged in an extramarital affair found that two-thirds believed it was  not “simply reporting the news,” but “an attempt by the paper to hurt the McCain campaign.”


  • Rasmussen found “just 24% of American voters have a favorable opinion of the New York Times. Forty-four percent (44%) have an unfavorable opinion and 31% are not sure.” Voters were split by ideology: 50 percent of liberals were fans of the Times, while 69 percent of conservative voters had an unfavorable view.
  • “Of those who followed” the Times story about McCain’s supposed extramarital affair, “66% believe it was an attempt by the paper to hurt the McCain campaign. Just 22% believe the Times was simply reporting the news.”
  • “Republicans, by an 87% to 9% margin, believe the paper was trying to hurt McCain's chances of winning the White House. Democrats are evenly divided.”
  • At the end of the primary season in June, Pew discovered that “nearly four-in-ten (37%) say that in covering the Democratic race, news organizations have been biased toward Obama while just 8% say they have been biased toward Clinton.”
  • “Substantial minorities of Republicans (45%) and independents (40%) say the press has been biased toward Obama; somewhat fewer Democrats (35%) see a pro-Obama bias.”
  • Looking at the media’s overall approach to the presidential campaign up to that point, Pew found the public mainly disapproving: “Most Americans (54%) say the coverage has been only fair or poor, compared with 43% who rate it as excellent or good.”

Previous: Exhibit 2-15: Sacred Heart University Polling Institute (2007)
Next: Exhibit 2-17: Rasmussen Reports on Campaign 2008 Bias

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