The nationwide no-spin zone

Who, according to the American public, takes the prize for top reporter: Bob Woodward, Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh?

By Mark Follman
Published June 14, 2005 4:19PM (EDT)

From the Dept. of Most Encouraging Statistics: According to an Annenberg poll conducted this spring, about 40 percent of Americans consider Fox News talk show host Bill O'Reilly a "journalist" -- while only 30 percent of the people surveyed said they considered famed Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward to be one. (The poll was conducted from March 7 to May 2, before Mark Felt was revealed to be Deep Throat, but even if that news had boosted Woodward's number another 10 percent, would a tie between the two take us from astonishing to uplifting?)

Meanwhile, more than a quarter surveyed said that another champion of judicious reportage, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, was a journalist. Limbaugh said Monday that he was "not really surprised" by the results showing that 27 percent of Americans would describe him as a journalist. "I am America's anchorman, doing news play-by-play 15 hours a week for nearly 17 years now," Limbaugh said, "and this is just more evidence that the old media's monopoly-like dominance is finished."

The poll covered 10 different writers, TV news anchors and broadcast personalities, with respondents simply asked, "Please tell me if you think (the individual named) is a journalist or not?" Apparently, the question made no specific reference to differences between reporters and commentators.

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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