Fatigue: Public Losing Interest in Russia as Media Frenzy Rages

Poll finds fewer Americans concerned with allegations of campaign contact, collusion theories

On the pages of America’s major newspapers and the screens displaying its cable news outlets, concern over Russia never has been more feverish.

But a new poll by CNN — which has, perhaps, been the most aggressive in covering Russian interference in the 2016 election — suggests that public sentiment is heading in the opposite direction.

The CNN survey, conducted July 14-18, found 49 percent of Americans are concerned about contacts between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign. That is down 6 percentage points from a poll in March.

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This came as a surprise to CNN host Poppy Harlow. Since March, the Russia story got its biggest revelation — that the president’s son, son-in-law, and campaign manager met last summer with a Russian lawyer in hopes of obtaining dirt on 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton.

That, with maneuvering by special counsel Robert Mueller, has kicked coverage into overdrive. A Media Research Center report found that the CNN morning show “New Day” spent 93 percent of its time on Russia during an episode last week.

“If that poll is reflective of public opinion, the public must be wondering why politicians and the media aren’t talking about the issues they care about.”

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“The media have made Russia their No. 1 issue of the Trump administration … If that poll is reflective of public opinion, the public must be wondering why politicians and the media aren’t talking about the issues they care about,” said Rich Noyes, director of research at the media watchdog.

Noyes said the media overhyped the June 2016 meeting between top campaign advisers and the Russian lawyer.

“This is something, but it’s not terribly strong,” he said.

The CNN poll also suggests 33 percent of the people are not at all concerned about Trump-Russia contacts, 6 points higher than the share of respondents who are “very concerned.”

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) told CNN on Friday that his party should not focus on Russia to the exclusion of bread-and-butter issues such as rebuilding the transportation system and improving Americans’ job skills.

“I actually think it’s a mistake for us to focus so much attention on this issue,” he said, referring to Russia.

Kildee told CNN’s Harlow that the congressional committees investigating Russian involvement in the campaign should continue their work.

“The American public should know that we are watching this and we are paying attention to it, but I think what we’re seeing with this polling, and it’s correct, people want us to work on issues that will affect their lives immediately,” he said. “They’re worried about their jobs. They’re worried about kids being able to have opportunity.”

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Kildee added: “When they see us talking about everything else, over and over again, they rightfully get frustrated. As Democrats, we have to put forward an agenda that really speaks to what people are thinking about every day.”

Noyes said it is a staple of cable news to overhype a hot story. He said that in some cases, it is about sensationalism and ratings, while other times, political bias come into play. Russia, he added, has both elements.

“The public gets sick of these things,” he said, “long before the media get tired of covering them.”

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