Summer of 2013 Chock-Full of Scandals

    New York , N.Y. – August 27, 2013 – Scandals hit the news year round, but it always seems as though at least a few come our way during the summer. This summer has been no exception, with headlines regaling us all with news of everything from Paula Deen’s dismissal from the Food Network in the wake of allegations of racism to Major League Baseball’s internal battles against performance enhancing drugs to Anthony Weiner’s, well… communication habits. But what’s 2013’s Scandal of the Summer?

    By a margin the size of the Moscow airport, the highest percentage of Americans (42%) identify Edward Snowden leaking details of U.S. mass surveillance programs to the press as the Scandal of the Summer. At a distant second is Paula Deen being fired from the Food Network due to allegations of racism (16%), then performance enhancing drug revelations and related suspensions in Major League Baseball (12%) and revelations of additional sexting by Anthony Weiner (9%). An additional 14% of Americans say they believe something else qualifies for the title.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,045 U.S. adults surveyed online between August 16 and 20, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

    Under the lens

    Snowden also led the pack when Americans were asked how much they paid attention to certain scandals, with Paula Deen and MLB also receiving attention from the majority of Americans.

    • Seven in ten Americans say they have paid attention to the Snowden scandal (70%).
    • Just over half have paid attention to the Deen/Food Network story (53%) and the events within MLB (52%).
    • An additional four in ten have paid attention to the continuing saga of Anthony Weiner (41%).
    • Roughly two in ten have paid attention to reports of Amanda Bynes’ erratic behavior (23%), Reese Witherspoon’s arrest for disorderly conduct (20%) and reports that Simon Cowell conceived a child with his friend’s wife (19%).

    Cover to cover(age)

    Among those aware of each scandal, many Americans feel these news events received more media attention than they deserved. When asked how they felt about the amount of coverage each scandal received:

    • Majorities feel there has been too much coverage for the Paula Deen (61%) and Amanda Bynes (55%) scandals.
    • Roughly half indicate the same for the Simon Cowell (52%) and Reese Witherspoon (50%) stories.
    • Just over four in ten (42%) indicate the same for Weiner coverage, while nearly half (48%) feel there has been about the right amount of coverage for his story.

    Majorities feel there has been about the right amount of coverage for the MLB (57%) and Snowden (54%) stories, while – despite almost constant media attention – over one-fourth are hungry for still more Snowden coverage, with 26% saying there has not been enough.

    Opinions Page

    Response to these scandals can be contradictory, with Americans seemingly shifting their stances from one story to the next:

    • For example, Americans seem to think celebrity scandals should stay out of the papers – except when they don’t. Over three-fourths (77%) agree that Amanda Bynes’ struggles in her personal life should not qualify as news – and yet the same percentage agrees that because Simon Cowell is a public figure, it’s reasonable for him to expect that his personal life will attract media attention.
    • Similarly, Americans are a forgiving sort – except when they aren’t. Six in ten Americans (60%) feel the Food Network was wrong to fire Paula Deen; on the other hand, the same percentage feel the MLB suspensions in response to performance enhancing drugs have not been severe enough.

    Snowden’s leaking scandal is particularly divisive; although nearly half of Americans (47%) agree that he was brave to expose the surveillance programs to the world, four in ten (39%) disagree and 14% are not at all sure. More specifically, one-fourth each agree and disagree strongly with this sentiment (24% and 25%, respectively).

    So what do Americans agree on? Well, they certainly don’t want Anthony Weiner in a leadership position. Seven in ten (70%) agree that based on his behavior in his personal life, they wouldn’t trust him to lead their city.

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    TABLE 1

    SCANDAL OF THE SUMMER

    by Age, Gender & Political Affiliation

    We’d like to ask you about a few scandals that have occurred this summer. Which of the following would you say has been the ‘Scandal of the Summer’?

    Base: U.S. adults

    Total

    Age

    Gender

    Political Affiliation

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    Male

    Female

    Republican

    Democrat

    Independent

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Edward Snowden leaking details of U.S. mass surveillance programs to the press

    42

    34

    44

    38

    50

    44

    40

    48

    40

    44

    Paula Deen being fired from the Food Network due to allegations of racism

    16

    22

    16

    17

    10

    11

    20

    13

    22

    13

    Performance enhancing drug revelations and related suspensions in Major League Baseball (MLB)

    12

    11

    11

    12

    12

    12

    11

    11

    11

    10

    Revelations of additional sexting by Anthony Weiner

    9

    4

    6

    14

    11

    6

    11

    8

    9

    10

    Reports that Simon Cowell conceived a child with his friend’s wife

    4

    5

    6

    3

    2

    4

    3

    2

    5

    4

    Reports of Amanda Bynes’ erratic behavior

    3

    9

    2

    1

     

    3

    3

    3

    4

    3

    Reese Witherspoon’s arrest for disorderly conduct

    1

    4

     

     

     

    2

    1

     

    2

    1

    Something else

    14

    12

    14

    15

    14

    17

    11

    15

    8

    14

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

    indicates <0.5% response

    — indicates 0% response


    TABLE 2a

    AMOUNT OF ATTENTION HAVE PAID TO EACH SCANDAL

    Grid Summary

    How much attention have you paid to each of the following scandals?

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Great Deal or Some attention (NET)

    Have paid a great deal of attention to it

    Have paid some attention to it

    Not much or No attention (NET)

    Have not paid much attention to it

    Have not paid attention at all, but was aware

    N/A – I was not at all aware of this

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Edward Snowden leaking details of U.S. mass surveillance programs to the press

    70

    35

    35

    25

    11

    13

    6

    Paula Deen being fired from the Food Network due to allegations of racism

    53

    19

    34

    44

    22

    22

    3

    Performance enhancing drug revelations and related suspensions in Major League Baseball (MLB)

    52

    18

    34

    40

    18

    23

    8

    Revelations of additional sexting by Anthony Weiner

    41

    11

    30

    49

    24

    25

    10

    Reports of Amanda Bynes’ erratic behavior

    23

    7

    16

    59

    21

    39

    18

    Reese Witherspoon’s arrest for disorderly conduct

    20

    5

    15

    62

    22

    39

    19

    Reports that Simon Cowell conceived a child with his friend’s wife

    19

    5

    14

    59

    19

    40

    22

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


    TABLE 2b

    AMOUNT OF ATTENTION HAVE PAID TO EACH SCANDAL

    Summary of A great deal of attention + Some attention – by Age, Gender & Political Affiliation

    How much attention have you paid to each of the following scandals?

    Base: U.S. adults

    Total

    Age

    Gender

    Political Affiliation

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    Male

    Female

    Republican

    Democrat

    Independent

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Edward Snowden leaking details of U.S. mass surveillance programs to the press

    70

    55

    67

    70

    83

    75

    65

    73

    71

    70

    Paula Deen being fired from the Food Network due to allegations of racism

    53

    51

    52

    57

    54

    47

    59

    48

    62

    51

    Performance enhancing drug revelations and related suspensions in Major League Baseball (MLB)

    52

    39

    48

    57

    61

    55

    49

    51

    55

    54

    Revelations of additional sexting by Anthony Weiner

    41

    32

    38

    44

    48

    40

    42

    36

    48

    40

    Reports of Amanda Bynes’ erratic behavior

    23

    36

    22

    27

    10

    19

    26

    16

    29

    22

    Reese Witherspoon’s arrest for disorderly conduct

    20

    24

    22

    23

    13

    19

    20

    14

    25

    19

    Reports that Simon Cowell conceived a child with his friend’s wife

    19

    25

    23

    18

    14

    18

    21

    13

    24

    20


    TABLE 3a

    TOO MUCH, NOT ENOUGH OR RIGHT AMOUNT OF COVERAGE FOR EACH SCANDAL

    Grid Summary

    Thinking about those scandals you are aware of, do you think there has been not enough media coverage, about the right amount of media coverage or too much media coverage for each?

    Base: At least aware of the scandal being tested

     

    Too much coverage

    About the right amount of coverage

    Not enough coverage

    %

    %

    %

    Paula Deen being fired from the Food Network due to allegations of racism

    61

    32

    6

    Reports of Amanda Bynes’ erratic behavior

    55

    37

    8

    Reports that Simon Cowell conceived a child with his friend’s wife

    52

    39

    10

    Reese Witherspoon’s arrest for disorderly conduct

    50

    42

    7

    Revelations of additional sexting by Anthony Weiner

    42

    48

    10

    Performance enhancing drug revelations and related suspensions in Major League Baseball (MLB)

    28

    57

    15

    Edward Snowden leaking details of U.S. mass surveillance programs to the press

    19

    54

    26

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


    TABLE 3b

    TOO MUCH COVERAGE PERCEPTIONS FOR EACH SCANDAL

    Summary of Too much coverage – by Age, Gender & Political Affiliation

    Thinking about those scandals you are aware of, do you think there has been not enough media coverage, about the right amount of media coverage or too much media coverage for each?

    Base: At least aware of the scandal being tested

    Total

    Age

    Gender

    Political Affiliation

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    Male

    Female

    Republican

    Democrat

    Independent

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Paula Deen being fired from the Food Network due to allegations of racism

    61

    46

    59

    68

    70

    58

    64

    74

    54

    61

    Reports of Amanda Bynes’ erratic behavior

    55

    46

    59

    46

    67

    53

    57

    64

    53

    51

    Reports that Simon Cowell conceived a child with his friend’s wife

    52

    34

    51

    48

    68

    49

    54

    60

    47

    50

    Reese Witherspoon’s arrest for disorderly conduct

    50

    37

    47

    43

    65

    49

    51

    56

    47

    51

    Revelations of additional sexting by Anthony Weiner

    42

    33

    42

    40

    49

    41

    43

    44

    41

    42

    Performance enhancing drug revelations and related suspensions in Major League Baseball (MLB)

    28

    23

    32

    34

    27

    30

    26

    31

    24

    28

    Edward Snowden leaking details of U.S. mass surveillance programs to the press

    19

    14

    20

    26

    20

    18

    20

    20

    17

    19


    TABLE 4a

    AGREE/DISAGREE WITH SCANDAL STATEMENTS

    Grid Summary

    How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Strongly or Somewhat agree (NET)

    Strongly agree

    Somewhat agree

    Somewhat or Strongly disagree (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    Not at all sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Amanda Bynes’ struggles in her personal life should not qualify as news.

    77

    49

    29

    10

    6

    4

    13

    Because Simon Cowell is a public figure, it’s reasonable for him to expect that his personal life will attract media attention.

    77

    38

    39

    14

    8

    6

    9

    Based on his behavior in his personal life, I wouldn’t trust Anthony Weiner to lead my city.

    70

    52

    17

    15

    8

    8

    15

    The Food Network was wrong to fire Paula Deen.

    60

    36

    24

    27

    12

    15

    13

    MLB suspensions in response to performance enhancing drugs have not been severe enough.

    60

    34

    27

    22

    14

    7

    18

    I think Edward Snowden was brave to expose the surveillance programs to the world.

    47

    24

    22

    39

    15

    25

    14

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


    TABLE 4b

    AGREE WITH SCANDAL STATEMENTS

    Summary of Strongly agree + Somewhat agree – by Age, Gender & Political Affiliation

    How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. adults

    Total

    Age

    Gender

    Political Affiliation

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    Male

    Female

    Republican

    Democrat

    Independent

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Amanda Bynes’ struggles in her personal life should not qualify as news.

    77

    78

    76

    79

    77

    75

    79

    77

    79

    79

    Because Simon Cowell is a public figure, it’s reasonable for him to expect that his personal life will attract media attention.

    77

    73

    71

    81

    80

    72

    81

    77

    79

    77

    Based on his behavior in his personal life, I wouldn’t trust Anthony Weiner to lead my city.

    70

    53

    68

    72

    84

    68

    72

    73

    71

    71

    The Food Network was wrong to fire Paula Deen.

    60

    51

    58

    66

    66

    56

    64

    77

    53

    60

    MLB suspensions in response to performance enhancing drugs have not been severe enough.

    60

    49

    60

    62

    69

    59

    62

    67

    58

    63

    I think Edward Snowden was brave to expose the surveillance programs to the world.

    47

    56

    42

    48

    41

    46

    47

    45

    43

    54

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 16 and 20, 2013 among 2,045 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

    The Harris Poll #56, August 27, 2013

    About Harris Interactive

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