Most Americans Aren’t Paying Attention To Latest Round Of Scandals

Not surprisingly, the Pew Research Center’s latest survey finds that the vast majority of Americans aren’t paying attention to the latest round of scandals gripping Washington:

So far, public interest in a trio of controversies connected to the Obama administration has been limited. Roughly a quarter (26%) of Americans say they are very closely following reports that the IRS targeted conservative groups. About the same number (25%) are tracking the Benghazi investigation very closely, and even fewer (16%) are very closely following news about the Justice Department subpoenaing phone records of AP journalist.

The new survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted May 16-19 among 1,002 adults, finds that 37% of Republicans are paying very close attention to the IRS story, compared with 21% of Democrats and 25% of independents. And the Benghazi investigation continues to draw much greater interest from Republicans (34% very closely) than Democrats (18%).

A historical review of previous controversies involving White House or cabinet officials finds that these levels of public interest – and the partisan divide in attentiveness – are not necessarily new. Previous scandals – such as the Lewis “Scooter” Libby case during George W. Bush’s administration or the “Pardon-gate” scandal at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term – received similar levels of public attention, and were generally more interesting to those in the opposition party.

Bad news for Republicans, obviously, because as long as most of the public isn’t paying attention to this story it’s unlikely that they’re going to score many political points off of this, and that is the ultimate end of all of this obviously. In the end, all this is likely to do is stir up the GOP base, although, as these numbers indicate, even most Republican’s don’t seem to be closely following the latest scandals:

Pew

 

As we head into the summer, I doubt we’re going to see public interest increase unless there is some major blockbuster revelation that directly links the White House to what happened at the IRS, or something serious in the Benghazi matter. Given the direction the evidence is going at the moment, this seems unlikely.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    What scandals are you talking about? There is, what appears to be a pretty low-level scandal at the IRS. Aside from that, it’s more or less Faux scandal. Why are you guys being water carriers for their bogus memes?

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Back when he was helping to plan and implement Nixon’s Southern Strategy, Pat Buchanan is quoted as having said they’d split the country in half, and they’d get the bigger half. GOPs have kept doing this, but we may have arrived at the Democrat’s half being larger. I occasionally see hints that Obama and the Dems may be willing to embrace the Southern Strategy. The GOPs seem to have their heads solidly planted in the Conservative Echo Chamber (or someplace that smells like it) and are failing to realize that by pushing this stuff they are making it easy for the Dems to paint them as out of touch and as irrational haters. Like really, really easy.

    And what anjin-san said, quit buying into the GOP framing on this stuff.

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    There’s a Benghazi scandal? News to me. The term “scandal” implies some sort of wrongdoing or ill-intent, and as far as I know, from the voluminous news coverage of this one small attack, there has been no such thing.

  4. anjin-san says:

    There’s a Benghazi scandal? News to me.

    Sean Hannity says there is a scandal. You are not suggesting that Doug question Hannity, are you? Why the very notion is… scandalous.

  5. legion says:

    Well, if you’ve actually been watching the Republican Noise Machine, this isn’t the least bit surprising… Look at how many “scandals” the GOP has declared to be “the worst since Watergate” in just this past week… We’ve got Benghazi, which everybody can plainly see isn’t actually a scandal. We’ve got the IRS thing, in which some IRS employees appear to have broken numerous regulations – but no actual laws, regardless of what Boehner seems to think. We’ve got the Justice Department & the AP reporters, which does actually look disturbing. And in the exact same tone of voice the shout that Obama’s use of a Marine to hold his frigging umbrella during a speech is equally “bad”.

    In some ways, the breathless stenography most media outlets give to GOP talking points is really hurting them. Because they only have one volume level – MAX OUTRAGE – they’re even reporting total nutballs like Alex Jones accusing the President of causing the tornado in OKC to distract people from other stuff as deadly serious. There are even wackjobs out there claiming the recent spate of military sexual harassment problems is a deliberate distraction.

    And people are realizing the the only sane response to the GOP’s letting the extremist nutballs drive the bus is to politely ignore them. Let’s hope they continue that attitude come election time.

  6. stonetools says:

    Maybe the American people are smarter than we think.
    I think most Americans are focused more on jobs and the economy, and rightly so.
    The Republicans need to keep their GOP base stirred up and outraged, so they are going to keep on “scandalizing”.
    Up next, Obama’s prom pictures. Dunno why conservatives should be scandalized about that, but they’ll think of something…

    Also too, possible Caption Contest selection!

  7. Jr says:

    So I guess the GOP should try something else, I don’t know like govern?

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @Jr: probably better they stick to things they know.

  9. Gustopher says:

    @stonetools: I eagerly await Promgate. I don’t know what the pretext will be, but there’s something there, and it will be worse than Watergate.

    Oh, yes, there it is — as you can see from the photo, he’s got his hand on a white girl. I suspect it will be phrased differently, but the racist wing of the Republican party is not going to be pleased.

  10. EddieInCA says:

    To: Doug, Dr. Joyner, Dr. Taylor, Michael Reynolds, Septimus, and those others who feel DOJ went overboard in going after James Rosen of Fox News.

    Question: If a Reporter is shown to be using his journalism as a way of using his “journalism” in order to “force the administration’s hand to go in the right direction, if possible.”, does that change the nature of your defense of Mr. Rosen?

    This article by Tommy Christopher at Mediaite – http://www.mediaite.com/columnists/doj-document-reveals-fox-news-reporter-james-rosen-wanted-to-impact-u-s-foreign-policy/ – very clearly shows that Mr. Rosen was acting as much more than a “journalist” or “reporter”. He was acting as an activist, or lobbyist on behalf of a specific policy position.

    Read the whole thing. Rosen is trying to get his source to reveal classified information in order to change US Foreign Policy in a way that he’d prefer.

    Here’s the whole quote – taken directly from Rosen’s email:

    Thanks Leo. What I am interested in, as you might expect, is breaking new ahead of my competitors. Let’s break some new, and expose muddle-headed policy when we see it – or force the administration’s hand to go in the right direction, if possible.

    That to me changes the dynamics of the story completely.

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Here’s some actual scandals:

    – Unemployment for African-American men and for young people continues to top 20%.
    – The War on Drugs. Everything about it.
    – Congress blocking the closing of Guantanomo since 2009.
    – Three people die in a bombing attack in Boston and the country goes apeshit. A Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans gets shot up and it is dismissed as street violence.

    How do any of those foolish news stories compare in importance or magnitude?

  12. Septimius says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Not sure if you’re aware of this, but the first amendment applies to opinion journalists, too. If anything, this makes it worse. It is an incredible abuse of power to attempt to criminalize investigative reporting. It is an even worse abuse of power to selectively criminalize the investigative reporting of a perceived ideological opponent.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    So far, public interest in a trio of controversies connected to the Obama administration has been limited.

    Well, it might help if there was any actual connection to the White House in the IRS or AP “scandals”. As far as Benghazi goes, if they could show any actual wrong doing, that might help as well.

    Heh:

    In the IRS case, many prominent Washington lawyers say Ruemmler made the sensible legal call. She protected her client — Obama — by distancing him from a politically sensitive problem and ensuring that he could not be accused of meddling in an inquiry.

    In addition, one senior administration official said, Ruemmler at the time did not know key facts: How extensive was the IRS’s targeting? How many and which employees were involved? Did they target only conservative groups and was the effort politically motivated? And were those groups’ applications for tax-exempt status denied or delayed?

    To keep from intervening in the audit, Ruemmler could not seek answers, the official said.

    “The single most important thing the White House counsel can do at that point is make sure no one in the White House does anything to interfere with or anything that may obstruct the conclusions from being finished and rolled out,” said Jack Quinn, who served as White House counsel under Bill Clinton.

  14. Huh…..here in Colorado, the right-wing scandal du jure came from the guv giving a “temporary reprieve” to a guy on death row. We have three people on death, no one has been executed in this state since Clinton was prez, and these wingnuts were freaking out over this stuff.

    You would have thought the guv gave the killer a pardon rather than a life sentence.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Steve Benin:

    And with this, the goalposts move a little further. The right started by arguing, “Why did Obama intervene in the IRS’s activities?” This shifted recently to, “Why didn’t Obama intervene in the IRS’s activities?” And Palin is shifting it again, effectively asking, “Why didn’t Obama know more about the IRS’s activities?”

    When the GOP figures out what it is they are actually upset about, the rest of America will decide whether or not to join them.

  16. EddieInCA says:

    @Septimius:

    Fair enough… Then at what point does a reporter cross a line with you? It sounds to me like you’re saying that anyone who claims the title of “reporter” or “journalist” is immune from any sort of criminal activity as it pertains to breaking laws on the books regarding the reporting of classified information or National Security?

    Is there any point at which a journalist goes from being a “reporter” to an “activist” or “agent?”

    Genuinely curious where that line is with you and Mr. Michael Reynolds.

    Thank you.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Thanx for the laugh.

  18. mantis says:

    @stonetools:

    Up next, Obama’s prom pictures. Dunno why conservatives should be scandalized about that, but they’ll think of something…

    Release the long-form prom pics!

  19. Tony W says:

    Not for lack of trying on Doug’s part….

  20. Septimius says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I believe I explained this in another thread. I don’t think a reporter can be an active participant in a crime in order to obtain information and still be protected under the first amendment. As I stated before, I don’t think reporters should be allowed to break into offices. I don’t think they should hack computers or cellphones. I don’t think they should misrepresent themselves to obtain information. I don’t think soliciting classified information makes a reporter an active participant in a crime. I don’t think Rosen using coded signals to communicate with Kim made him an active participant in the crime. I think all reporters who obtain classified information from leakers probably take steps to hide their communications. If Rosen had planned the crime beforehand with Kim and instructed him how to illegally obtain classified documents, that would likely make him an active participant in the crime. I haven’t read anything to suggest that happened in this case.

  21. al-Ameda says:

    Actually, I’m amazed that that Republicans haven’t moved to draft articles of impeachment yet. What are they waiting for, evidence? More favorable polling? Until after the 2014 mid term elections? Constitutionally, they don’t really need a reason.

    After nearly 5 years of anti-Obama vitriol it now appears that the only people who are listening to these malevolent sociopaths are base Republicans. what makes Republicans dangerous is that the control The House.

  22. EddieInCA says:

    @Septimius:

    I don’t think soliciting classified information makes a reporter an active participant in a crime.

    The law disagrees: 18 USC § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/793

    (a) Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defense, navy yard, naval station, submarine base, fueling station, fort, battery, torpedo station, dockyard, canal, railroad, arsenal, camp, factory, mine, telegraph, telephone, wireless, or signal station, building, office, research laboratory or station or other place connected with the national defense owned or constructed, or in progress of construction by the United States or under the control of the United States, or of any of its officers, departments, or agencies, or within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, or any place in which any vessel, aircraft, arms, munitions, or other materials or instruments for use in time of war are being made, prepared, repaired, stored, or are the subject of research or development, under any contract or agreement with the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or with any person on behalf of the United States, or otherwise on behalf of the United States, or any prohibited place so designated by the President by proclamation in time of war or in case of national emergency in which anything for the use of the Army, Navy, or Air Force is being prepared or constructed or stored, information as to which prohibited place the President has determined would be prejudicial to the national defense; or
    (b) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, and with like intent or reason to believe, copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts to copy, take, make, or obtain, any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, document, writing, or note of anything connected with the national defense; or
    (c) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain from any person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note, of anything connected with the national defense, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made, or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this chapter; or
    (d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or
    (e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or
    (f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense,
    (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or
    (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
    Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

    If the charges against Rosen are true, I believe – but I’m not a lawyer, so I certainly can be wrong – that a decent case can be made that Rosen did, in fact, break the existing law.

  23. Caj says:

    The only scandal I see right now is Congress doing absolutely nothing to help the President get the country back on track! Block, filibuster, take off, come back, do nothing! Then repeat that all over again and again and again! That’s the disgrace here and the American people should be furious, I know I am!!!

  24. john personna says:

    @Caj:

    The deficit is the biggest problem we face, except whoops now it isn’t.

  25. anjin-san says:

    Why are you guys being water carriers for their bogus memes?

    I was hoping, probably in vain, for an answer.

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  27. Eugenian says:

    What will matter most to people is if the economy continues to improve. That is under threat as the sequester starts to take effect.

    If the economy improves, Congress, tied up in scandal, won’t be able to take credit. If it does not improve, Congress, tied up in scandal, will get blamed for not doing anything.

    All in all it looks like an omen for continued losses for Republicans in the next election.