Public Faults Media on Military Issues, Poll Finds

By: E&P Staff

The American public may be more interested in national security than ever, but they feel that the media and the U.S. military keep them poorly informed about what they need to know.

At least that’s what a new poll shows, which finds that 60% of Americans believe they do not get enough information about military matters to make educated decisions.

A McCormick Tribune Foundation/Gallup poll to be released today finds that only 54% of Americans say they feel the military keeps them well informed, down from 77% percent in 1999. The media fare only slightly better, with 61% saying they keep them informed on national security and military issues, down from 79% in 1999.

Even worse, more than 3 out of 4 believe that the military occasionally provides false or inaccurate information to the media.

The survey found that the public felt a heightened sense of this regarding the run-up to the Iraq war.

“The poll’s most striking findings may have to do with how much information the public felt was available about Iraq — and the stakes in going to war there — before the conflict began,” the Chicago Tribune observed. “More than 60% of those questioned faulted both the government and news media for failing to adequately inform them before the March 2003 invasion.”

The poll surveyed 1,016 adults during the first two weeks of June.

“Media and military experts said the data are troubling at a time when Americans are becoming more savvy about the information they receive and are seeking their news from an increasing number of sources,” the Washington Post reported.

Cori Dauber, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told the Post, “One of the most important findings here is how interested the public is and that both the military and the media underestimate how many national security topics the public cares about.”

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