February 27, 2008

Sixty-Six Percent Say 'Smear!'

The New York Times marks another milestone on its journey to National Enquirer status. The Gray Lady's smear piece on John McCain got 66% of Rasmussen respondents believing that the paper deliberately trying to kneecap the Republican frontrunner. Only 22% think that the paper had clean motives in publishing the unsubstantiated gossip:

The Times recently became enmeshed in controversy over an article published concerning John McCain. Sixty-five percent (65%) of the nation’s likely voters say they have followed that story at least somewhat closely.

Of those who followed the story, 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.

Let's take a look at the crosstabs. Among age groups, a majority in each demographic believe that the NYT deliberately set out to damage McCain's reputation. The youngest give Bill Keller and company the most credit, with 34% believing that the Times was just reporting the news, as opposed to 53% who believed that the paper aimed to smear McCain. No other age demographic has more than 23% who believe that the Times operated with pure motives, and two-thirds across all other ages believe that they acted out of malice.

It doesn't get better in the other demographics, either. Whites, blacks, and "others" all strongly believe that Keller and his reporters acted maliciously. Sixty-nine percent of independents joined 40% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans in that belief. Only self-professed liberals believe that the Times used sound news judgment in running the piece; conservatives and moderates overwhelmingly blame bias and malice. And only liberals and 18-29 year olds view the Times more favorably than unfavorably.

The Times, under the management of Bill Keller and especially Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger, has reduced what had been the nation's premiere newspaper to the credibility of a supermarket tabloid. People used to think conservatives overreacted to the attack memes of the Gray Lady. Now only liberals defend the paper -- and only then by the barest of majorities.

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