Twice as Many Say Media Fair on Peterson Case

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The number of Americans who believe Scott Peterson (search) was involved in the murder of his wife remains steady, and by more than two-to-one Americans say media coverage of the case has been impartial.

A nationwide FOX News poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (May 6-7), finds about two-thirds of Americans think Peterson was definitely (43 percent) or probably (24 percent) involved in the murder of his pregnant wife Laci Peterson (search). Only three percent think Peterson was not involved, with 30 percent not sure. These results are virtually unchanged from two weeks ago.

The gender gap remains as well, with 72 percent of women and 62 percent of men thinking Peterson was involved. Those groups most likely to think Peterson was “definitely” involved include young people (54 percent think he was definitely involved) and nonwhites (52 percent).

There are regional differences in opinion on the California case. While those living on the West Coast are in line with other regions on the overall question of Peterson being at least probably involved in Laci’s murder, that region has the fewest believing he was “definitely” involved. For example, 37 percent on the West Coast believe Peterson was definitely involved, compared to 54 percent in the North East.

Just over half of the public (51 percent) think the reporting on the Peterson case has been fair and 23 percent say unfair (the remaining 26 percent are unsure).

Police arrested Scott Peterson on April 18 and he was charged with double homicide for the deaths of his wife and their unborn son. Last week, Peterson, who had been assigned a public defender, hired well-known California attorney Mark Geragos (search). In a public statement, Geragos made clear he believes Peterson is innocent and went on to say he intends to “find out who did this to Scott’s wife and Scott’s son.”

Few (five percent) think the attorney took the case because he believes in his client’s innocence, with fully 71 percent saying Geragos took the case solely for its publicity value.

Polling was conducted by telephone May 6-7, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. Based on what you know right now, do you think Scott Peterson was involved in the murder of his pregnant wife Laci? Is that definitely (involved/not involved) or probably (involved/not involved)?

2. Overall, do you think the media have been fair or unfair in covering the Scott Peterson case?

3. Scott Peterson has hired attorney Mark Geragos to defend him. Mr. Geragos stated this week that his client is innocent and that he intends to "find out who did this to Scott's wife and Scott's son." Which of the following do you think best describes the reason Mr. Geragos took the case?