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Trayvon Martin coverage: Republicans, many whites say 'enough'

April 03, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • State Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, is launching a study into Florida's "stand your ground" law.
State Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, is launching a study into Florida's… (Associated Press / Tallahassee…)

A majority of Republicans say the media have gone overboard with their  coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying, and 43% of whites in general say enough is enough, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

The survey found that 56% of Republicans are fed up with the amount of coverage. By contrast, 25% of Democrats (and 33% of Democrats who identify themselves as white) surveyed say there has been too much coverage. The survey also found that 16% of blacks polled say they've had enough. 

"This story has emerged as a kind of flashpoint story that divides people, and people have very different reactions based on race and ethnicity,” Carroll Doherty, associate director of Pew Research Center, told The Times.

The Feb. 26 shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old in Sanford, Fla., by a neighborhood watch captain has dominated the news in recent weeks. The racially charged case is likely to stay in the public eye for the foreseeable future as prosecutors decide whether to charge George Zimmerman in Martin's death.

Critics have held almost daily marches and protests in an effort to raise awareness about the case and to demand Zimmerman's arrest.

The case has also led state Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, above, to launch a study into Florida's "stand your ground" law. The law, which gives people the ability to protect themselves in the face of danger, is believed to be at issue in the Martin case, with Zimmerman saying he opened fire because he feared for his own safety.

The results were revealed as part of the Pew center's weekly News Interest Index survey. The survey took place Thursday through Sunday and questioned 1,000 adults.

The survey found that 30% of those surveyed said they were following the case "most closely" as compared with any other story. (The Supreme Court hearings on the 2010 healthcare law are a distant second with just 15%, according to the center's survey results.) 

Overall, 37% of those surveyed say the media are focusing too much on Martin's death. An almost identical amount -- 40% -- say coverage has been about right. And 14% say more coverage is needed.

"Seldom do you get differences along these lines," Doherty said of the results. "This story seems to have really touched a nerve, and there’s a clear difference in the way political groups and racial groups see it."

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