Poll: One-third blame media for political violence

Poll: One-third blame media for political violence
© Greg Nash

A plurality of registered voters say the media is to blame for instigating political violence.

According to data from the latest Harvard-Harris Poll survey, provided exclusively to The Hill, 35 percent say the media is to blame, 26 percent blamed Democrats and the left, 24 percent blame President Trump and 15 percent blame Republicans and the right.

“The media has been steadily losing credibility over time and this finding should give pause to cable channels and news outlets that sponsor plays featuring mock assassinations of the president,” said Harvard-Harris Poll co-founder Mark Penn.

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In the survey, respondents were asked who they "blame the most for instigating political violence" and then given a choice between Democrats and the left, Republicans and the right, Trump or the media.

Among Republicans, 47 percent blame Democrats for political violence, while 42 percent blame the media.

Among Democrats, 40 percent blame Trump, 26 percent blame the right and 22 percent say the media is at fault.

Among independents, 40 percent blame the media, 26 percent blame Trump, 22 percent blame Democrats and the left, and 13 percent say Republicans and the right are to blame.

The poll uses a methodology that doesn't produce a traditional margin of error.

Last week, a gunman whose social media profile indicated he was a supporter of Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Sanders knocks Trump in MLK Day speech Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices MORE (I-Vt.), opened fire on a field where Republican lawmakers were practicing for a charity baseball game.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was gravely wounded and four others were injured. All of the victims survived. The gunman was killed by Scalise’s security detail.

That event cast scrutiny on the increasingly heated rhetoric playing out nightly on cable news shows, as well as several controversial acts of protest.

CNN cut ties with comedian Kathy Griffin after she posed for a photo shoot holding a mannequin head made to look like President Trump.

Central Park’s summer Shakespeare production of “Julius Caesar,” which appears to portray the slain Roman dictator as Trump-like figure, has attracted protesters and boycotts.

This week, actor Johnny Depp mused about the last time an actor assassinated the president, provoking a response from the White House.

“President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and its [sic] sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead,” a White House officials said. “I hope that some of Mr. Depp's colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if this was directed towards a democrat elected official."

A majority of voters, 58 percent, said strengthening protections for speech are more important than preventing hate speech or creating “safe spaces.”

The Harvard-Harris Poll online survey of 2,237 registered voters was conducted between June 19 and June 21. The partisan breakdown is 35 percent Democrat, 29 percent Republican, 30 percent independent and 6 percent other.

Harvard–Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Harvard Center for American Political Studies and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard-Harris throughout 2017. Full poll results will be posted online later this week.