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Poll makes more Jeremiah Wright news by finding too much of it

May 9, 2008 |  9:46 pm

This posting may defy the sentiment behind it: People say the media have over-covered the story of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

So here, to document that point, is more of that coverage.

"The latest round of news about Barack Obama and his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright dominated campaign news coverage last week,'' the Pew Research Center finds in its latest weekly news-interest survey. "Wright's comments are by far the biggest political event of the campaign to date: Fully 62% say they have heard a lot or a little about Rev. Wright's recent speeches.''

And look at this: "Most Americans (59%) think news organizations have overcovered the Wright controversy,'' Pew's Andy Kohut reports. "About two-thirds of Democrats Controversial Rev Jeremiah Wright of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ and one-time spiritual advisor to Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of Illinois(66%) and nearly as many independents (59%) say that news organizations have devoted too much coverage to Wright's recent speeches. But as many as half of Republicans agree that Wright's comments have received too much coverage.''

With all of that exposure for Obama, the Democrat who now stands the strongest chance of claiming his party's presidential nomination, and the most incendiary remarks of the fiery, longtime and now-retired pastor of Obama's church on the South Side of Chicago, comes a certain political price.

"By the end of the week a quarter of all Americans, including 26% of Democrats, said their opinion of Obama had become less favorable in recent days,'' reports Kohut, president of the Pew Center. "Fewer than half as many (11%) said their opinion of the Illinois senator had become more favorable. ''

Those whose opinions had changed were asked about any specific incidents that prompted that. "Overall, a majority of those who said their opinion of Obama had become more negative volunteered a specific incident, with the Wright controversy mentioned most frequently (by 60% of those who cited a specific event).''

Of course, nearly four in ten Americans surveyed said they also had seen the photographs of Miley Cyrus that had stirred an uproar over the young skin of Hannah Montana. And that didn't do much for her image either -- among those who saw the bare-backed photo and others, 59% thought they were inappropriate.

-- Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau.