HPU/News & Record Poll: Terror Attacks on Media Possible in U.S., But Media Should Be Free to Publish Offensive Material

HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 11, 2015 – The HPU/News & Record Poll finds that an overwhelming majority – 90 percent – of North Carolinians believe terrorist attacks like the Jan. 7 attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo could happen here in the United States. At the same time, 66 percent of respondents say the media should still be allowed to print material even if it might offend religious groups.

Approximately 39 percent of North Carolinians say they have seen some cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, while 61 percent say they have not or don’t know if they’ve seen the cartoons.

Another majority of respondents – 54 percent – say that Charlie Hebdo did not bear responsibility for the attack by inciting the attackers. About 1 in 5 (19 percent) North Carolinians say that Charlie Hebdo bore such responsibility.

In addition to North Carolinians supporting the media in publishing cartoons or content that might offend religious groups, 53 percent think that the American media should publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that offended some Muslims.

“The HPU Poll findings about the Charlie Hebdo attacks show Americans are concerned about the prospect of such attacks here in the U.S., but are also relatively firm in their belief that freedom of the press in the U.S. protects publication of material that might offend some people,” says Brian McDonald, assistant director of the HPU Poll.

All adults – Seen Cartoons by Charlie Hebdo

Have you seen any cartoons that were published by Charlie Hebdo [pronounced Eb-Doe], the French satirical magazine that was attacked by terrorists in Paris on Jan. 7?

Yes – 39 percent

No – 60 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 1 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Charlie Hebdo responsibility for attacks

Did Charlie Hebdo [pronounced Eb-Doe] bear some responsibility for the attack by inciting the attackers?

Yes – 19 percent

No – 54 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 27 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Media freedom to show offensive images

Should the media be allowed to show images that might offend some religious groups?

Yes – 66 percent

No – 27 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 7 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Should American media publish the cartoons?

Should American media publish the Charlie Hebdo [pronounced Eb-Doe] cartoons that offended some Muslims?

Yes – 53 percent

No – 32 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 16 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Could such terror attacks happen in the U.S.?

Do you feel these kinds of attacks could occur in the United States?

Yes – 90 percent

No – 7 percent

Don’t know/refuse – 4 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb.5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 417 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.8 percentage points for all adult respondents. The data are weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender and race. In addition to sampling error, factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the assistant director of the HPU Poll.

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