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56% Say Media Put Too Much Emphasis on Politics in Arizona Shooting Coverage

Voters give mixed marks to the media’s handling of the recent tragic shootings in Arizona, and most say the coverage focused too much on the political angle of the story.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters think, generally speaking, that the media’s coverage of the incident has been good or excellent. Twenty-four percent (24%) rate the coverage as poor. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But 56% say the news coverage of the shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of six others has focused too much on the political implications. Only six percent (6%) believe there has not been enough coverage of the political angle, while 29% say the media coverage has been about right.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of Democrats regard the news coverage of the shootings as good or excellent. Only 37% of Republicans and 34% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties share that view.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of GOP voters and 65% of unaffiliateds say the media coverage focused too much on the political implications. A plurality (46%) of Democrats, on the other hand, say the coverage was about right.

Although initially some media coverage tried to link the shootings to Tea Party anger at President Obama’s policies, just 28% of Americans view the shootings in Arizona as the result of political anger in the country.  Fifty-eight percent (58%) say instead that it was a random act of violence by an unstable person.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on January 13-14, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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