Forty two percent of people think Brian Williams should be allowed to return to NBC Nightly News, and 23% think Bill O’Reilly’s status on Fox News Channel should be changed to suspended (11%) or let go (12%) — which matches the number of people who think he should be allowed to continue as host of The O’Reilly Report, according to a national Quinnipiac University Poll.
Both men are under scrutiny for claims they made about their work as journalists that have either been refuted or are under investigation. NBC News suspended Williams last month; Fox News Channel, meanwhile, has maintained its “staunch support of O’Reilly” saying he is the victim of an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters.
Among those who participated in the poll, 51% said they have not yet heard enough yet to form an opinion about O’Reilly’s status at Fox News Channel. And O’Reilly’s poll questions include one unusual response: another 3% are listed as “REFUSED” – as in “to answer.”
Meanwhile, 35% say Williams should not be let back to anchor NBC’s evening news. Just 24% say they still don’t know whether Williams should be reinstated as anchor and managing editor of the newscast. Last month, Williams was suspended for six months while NBC News continues to investigate charges he deliberately jazzed up his accounts of things he’d witnessed and experienced while on assignment for NBC News over the years; last week NBC News named Williams former boss Andy Lack to return to run the division.
In what will come as no surprise, people’s views of the two show helmers tended to break along political party lines. While 42% of GOP respondents think Williams should not return; only 28% of Dems agreed. Conversely, just 4% of Republicans think O’Reilly should get the hook, but 21% of Democrats. And, 30% of Republicans want O’Reilly on the air regardless, compared to 11% of Dems.
More good news for Williams: 7% of people who participated in the poll think he should switch careers and replace Jon Stewart as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. That puts Williams in the running with former CBS Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson (7%) and only slightly behind former Daily Show correspondent and Stewart fill-in host John Oliver, who nabbed 8% of the votes despite having just signed a new contract to keep doing his own late-night show at HBO. Participants were not given the option of voting for O’Reilly to replace Stewart. Tina Fey leads the pack at 19% – being the darling of Dems with 26% of their votes – followed by Dennis Miller with 16% overall, owing to a 24% endorsement by Republicans. And, to the degree Comedy Central pays attention to Quinnipiac polls, Chelsea Handler hasn’t a chance, nabbing just 5% of the thumbs-up. Overwhelmingly, “Don’t Know” was the new host of choice.
As the news outfits grapple with the attacks on their stars, Fox News scores highest among major TV news organizations with the highest percentage of respondents saying they trust the news outlet “A Great Deal”, at 20%. NBC copped a lower 14% — though it was on par with the response for ABC News and CBS News.
On the other hand, FNC also appears to be the least trusted network, scoring highest among those who responded they trusted the network Not At All. A full 26% of respondents said they did not trust Fox News Channel at all, compared to 18% for NBC (and 14% for ABC, 15% for CBS, and 28% for CNN. FNC edged out MSNBC with 24% responding they did not trust the cable network at all)
Here too, responses divided along party lines; 35% of respondents who identified themselves as Republican said they trust FNC a lot, compared to 11% of Democrats, while just 9% of GOP respondents trust NBC a great deal, but 23% of Dems. On the flip side, a whopping 44% of those who didn’t trust FNC identified themselves as Dems but only 5% of Republicans answered the question that way. But 22% of Republicans said they didn’t trust NBC News at all, to only 5% of Dems.
Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from February 26-March 2, surveying 1,286 registered voters nationwide by land lines and cell phones, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.