Friday, February 8, 2008

Americans love and hate O'Reilly equally, according to poll

Harris Interactive issued a press release Friday listing America's top three favorite and least favorite news personalities. Bill O'Reilly got 23% of the vote on both sides of the issue. He, Charles Gibson and Anderson Cooper came out the three favorites.
The least favorites were Rush Limbaugh, O'Reilly and Larry King. Michael Savage, our choice for third, didn't even place. (You know that's gonna tick that egomaniac off.)

Anyway, the entire press release is below. The results are interesting, to say the least.


Conservative Talk Show Hosts Top Lists of Both Favorite and Least Favorite News and Current Affairs Personalities

O’Reilly, Gibson and Cooper Top Favorites and Limbaugh, O’Reilly and King Top Least Favorites List

ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The days of old when there was just network news and newspapers for people to go to for their information are long gone, and people who deliver the news have become much more numerous. They are no longer just newscasters, but rather news and current affairs personalities; toward that end, America has their favorites and, of course, their least favorites.

Leading the list of favorites, just under one-quarter (23%) of Americans cite Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly as one of their three favorite news and current affairs personalities, followed by the host of ABC’s World News Tonight, Charles Gibson and CNN’s Anderson Cooper (17% each).

Leading the list of least favorites, a plurality of Americans (42%) say Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is one of their least favorite news and current affairs personalities. The same number who cite Bill O’Reilly as one of their favorites also say he is one of their least favorites (23%) and 19 percent say CNN’s Larry King is one of their least favorite news and current affairs personalities.

These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,302 U.S. adults surveyed online between January 15 and 22, 2008 by Harris Interactive®.

Rounding out the top five favorite news and current affairs personalities is NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams (16%) and then with 13 percent each is Meet the Press host Tim Russert, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric and 60 Minutes host Mike Wallace. On the other side, 17 percent say that CNN Headline News’ Nancy Grace is one of their least favorites and just under that (16%) cite Katie Couric. In looking at the two lists, there are a number of the same people who are in the top ten on both. Bill O’Reilly, Katie Couric, ABC’s 20/20’s Barbara Walters, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News’s Sean Hannity all are in the top half of the favorites and the least favorites list.

Partisan Differences

It’s not just the backing of candidates that show partisan differences, their choices of favorite and least favorite news and current affairs personalities are also very different. For Republicans, their top three favorites are Bill O’Reilly (42%), Rush Limbaugh (28%) and Sean Hannity (27%). Perhaps, not surprisingly, Democrats have a very different list of favorites – Anderson Cooper (22%), Brian Williams (20%) and Charles Gibson (19%). One thing to note is that Republicans are more united behind their favorites while the Democrats are a bit more fragmented.

Where the Democrats do show stronger support is in the list of their least favorites as three in five Democrats (60%) say it’s Rush Limbaugh, followed by one-third (34%) who say Bill O’Reilly and 17 percent who say Nancy Grace. For Republicans, just over a quarter (26%) each says Larry King and Katie Couric are their least favorites. Rush Limbaugh definitely inspires mixed emotions for Republicans as 24 percent say he is one of their least favorites.

So What?

With the rise of online news and information sites and the 24 hour nature of news, there are many more places for Americans to get their news. This means that just having the anchor seated behind the table isn’t enough to grab viewers or listeners. These news personalities are competing for these viewers and each must try to stand out in some way. Maybe they focus on a single issue, trying to be the dominant news source on it. Maybe they go extremely high tech for announcing elections or, as in Tim Russert’s case, very low tech and just carry around a white board and marker. Whatever it may be, the dissemination of news has changed and the Cronkites, Brinkleys and Huntleys are no longer around.



“Thinking now of the media in general, of the news and current affairs personalities listed below, which three would you say are your favorites?”

Base: All adults
Total Republican Democrat Independent
% % % %
Bill O’Reilly 23 42 11 19
Charles Gibson 17 17 19 19
Anderson Cooper 17 14 22 17
Brian Williams 16 16 20 12
Tim Russert 13 9 18 16
Katie Couric 13 10 17 12
Mike Wallace 13 9 17 16
Barbara Walters 12 10 16 12
Rush Limbaugh 12 28 2 11
Sean Hannity 11 27 2 7
George Stephanopoulos 11 8 13 14
Larry King 9 9 11 7
Keith Olbermann 7 2 10 9
Chris Matthews 6 5 8 8
Lou Dobbs 6 3 8 9
Nancy Grace 6 6 7 7
Bob Schieffer 6 4 6 9
Wolf Blitzer 5 5 7 5
Shepard Smith 5 9 3 4
Greta Van Susteran 4 7 3 3
Tucker Carlson 2 3 1 2
Alan Colmes 2 4 1 1
None of these 23 13 22 23



“Of the news and current affairs personalities below, which three would you say are your least favorites?”

Base: All adults
Total Republican Democrat Independent
% % % %
Rush Limbaugh 42 24 60 50
Bill O’Reilly 23 10 34 29
Larry King 19 26 16 18
Nancy Grace 17 17 17 19
Katie Couric 16 26 10 16
Barbara Walters 15 20 10 16
Sean Hannity 10 3 15 15
Wolf Blitzer 9 13 8 8
George Stephanopoulos 8 14 3 10
Greta Van Susteran 8 9 9 6
Chris Matthews 6 11 3 5
Mike Wallace 5 10 2 4
Alan Colmes 5 9 3 4
Keith Olbermann 5 8 3 5
Tucker Carlson 4 4 5 3
Lou Dobbs 3 3 5 2
Anderson Cooper 3 4 2 2
Tim Russert 2 5 1 2
Brian Williams 2 3 2 2
Shepard Smith 2 1 2 2
Charles Gibson 2 2 2 1
Bob Schieffer 1 3 1 1
None of these 25 20 23 21


This Harris Poll® was conducted online within the United States January 15 and 22, among 2,302 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.


Q580, 585

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the largest and fastest-growing market research firms in the world. The company provides innovative research, insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what it believes to be the world’s largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its North American, European and Asian offices, and through a global network of independent market research firms. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at Harris Interactive is an independent, non-partisan research company and does not take part in political campaigning or primary predictions.

To become a member of the Harris Poll Online and be invited to participate in online surveys, register at

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