More Americans say they consider talk show host Bill O’Reilly a journalist than Bob Woodward, The Washington Post reporter who broke the Watergate story with Carl Bernstein, according to a poll conducted this spring.
Some 40 percent said O’Reilly was a journalist, while 30% said Woodward was one and 27% said talk show host Rush Limbaugh was. One in five said they considered newspaper columnist George Will to be a journalist.
Limbaugh said Monday he was “not really surprised” by the results showing a quarter of Americans would describe him as a journalist. The conservative talk show host said, “I am America’s anchorman, doing news play-by-play 15 hours a week for nearly 17 years now, and this is just more evidence that the old media’s monopoly-like dominance is finished.”
The Annenberg poll was conducted from March 7 to May 2, before extensive publicity about Mark Felt, the former FBI official who was Woodward’s Watergate source “Deep Throat.”
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, said the results of the poll suggest the public defines the word “journalist” far differently than those in the press define it.
Annenberg also polled journalists from all sectors of the industry. Only 3% of journalists said Limbaugh was “somewhat close” to being a journalist and 11% said that about O’Reilly, while 93% said Woodward was “somewhat close or very close” to being a journalist.
The poll also found:
–Two-thirds of journalists said large corporate ownership of media companies has a negative impact on the quality of news.
–About half of journalists said the emergence of blogs has made those in their business more accountable.
The poll of 1,500 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, and slightly higher for the poll of 673 journalists.