Forty-four percent of respondents to a recent Rasmussen survey believe media coverage of mass shootings inspires other people to “commit violent acts,” while a plurality (46%) think media coverage of such tragedies “is about right.”
The survey results were released about the same time that Pittsburgh synagogue massacre suspect Robert Bowers was in court, pleading not guilty to 44 counts that include hate crime charges, according to USA Today. He’s accused of gunning down 11 people last Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty.
In the past, critics of wall-to-wall news coverage of such events have contended that the media deluge encourages others to commit copycat crimes just to get some attention.
According to Rasmussen, that belief still has momentum. Five years ago, when Rasmussen asked the same question, 44 percent of the respondents believed then, as now, that media focus on the lives of violent criminals inspired others to commit violent crimes. At that time, 62 percent felt the media paid too much attention to the lives of violent criminals.
Rasmussen also noted that in its most recent survey, only 33 percent of the respondents think the media covers mass shootings too much. That’s down from the 44 percent who thought media reported too much about mass shootings following the 2014 shooting in San Bernardino. In 2013, after Aaron Alexis opened fire at the Washington DC Navy Yard with a pump shotgun, 54 percent of respondents thought there was too much media coverage.
Funerals for the 11 victims in Pittsburgh have already started. Some anti-gunners have already tried to exploit the shooting with calls for more gun control laws, but it isn’t clear what they want since Bowers had a clean record until the shooting, and he had legally purchased all the firearms he allegedly carried, some years ago.