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Public interest in Benghazi sags, but not among Republicans

May 13, 2013|By David Lauter

WASHINGTON — Public interest in the investigation of the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya last fall has dropped sharply from its high point in October and has taken on a strongly partisan cast, polling data released Monday shows.

Just over four in 10 American adults say they are closely following news about the investigations, down from nearly two-thirds in October, according to the poll from the Pew Research Center.

Among self-identified Republicans in the survey, 70% say the Obama administration has been “dishonest” in its handling of the killings, which took place in the Libyan city of Benghazi last Sept. 11. Only 15% of Republicans said the administration had been “honest.”

Among Democrats, the opposite was true, with 62% saying the administration had been honest and 16% saying dishonest.

PHOTOS: The controversy over Benghazi

Democrats overwhelmingly said they thought Republicans had “gone too far” in their investigations into Benghazi, with 60% taking that view, compared with 15% saying the Republicans had handled the issue “appropriately.” Republicans, 65% to 8%, took the opposite view.

On both questions, independents were more closely divided, with 48% saying they thought the administration had been dishonest and 30% honest and an almost even split on the question of whether the Republicans had “gone too far.”

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 56% said they regularly watch Fox News, which has covered the Benghazi story more intensely than other television outlets. That group was particularly likely to see the administration as dishonest, dividing 79%-9% on that question.

Nearly half the Republicans who regularly watch Fox said they were following the story “very closely.” That’s twice the level found in the public at large. They were also the most likely to feel the media are not covering the story enough, with 59% taking that position.

The Pew survey, conducted Thursday through Sunday, interviewed 1,000 American adults by telephone, including landlines and cellphones. It has a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.7 percentage points.

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