Change in perception mirrors Gulf War pattern
As U.S. troops approach Baghdad, Americans are losing enthusiasm for the media’s coverage of the war.
According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 29-30, the majority of Americans rate the media positively — but are less approving than they were when the fighting began.
Of the 1,012 adults questioned, 38% said the news media was doing an “excellent” job of covering the war, and 41% of respondents said the media was doing a “good” job. Only one in five thought the media’s performance was “fair” or “poor.”
A week ago, 52% gave a stamp of “excellent.” This pattern mirrors the perception of the media during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, when reactions to coverage started out approvingly but slipped as the war wore on.
Similarly, supporters of the war in both conflicts are more likely to give the media high marks. Forty-one percent of those who support the war in Iraq say the media coverage is “excellent,” compared with 29% of those who oppose it. Yet war supporters’ ratings dropped fastest over the last week, down 16 percentage points.
Meanwhile, Americans are feeling more “sad” and “tired” with each week of war. In a poll conducted the first week of the war, 56% of Americans said the war made them sad; that number spiked to 67% in the last week of March. Likewise, nearly half of those polled said the war makes them tired, up from a third for the same period.