Is McCain's media war working?

Read the beginning of Gallup's new poll on coverage of the presidential race, and you might think that John McCain's decision to declare war on the press hasn't worked out that well. Only 33 percent of adults polled, and only 54 percent (!) of Republicans, think that coverage of Sarah Palin has been "unfairly negative." And more adults (53 percent) now think that coverage of McCain has been "about right" than thought that in late July.

But, but, but.... Gallup also finds that public confidence in the press as a whole has reached an unprecedented low:

Republicans' criticism of how the media is treating their party's presidential and vice-presidential candidates may be taking a toll on broader public confidence in the mass media.

The percentage of Americans saying they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the media when it comes to fairness and accuracy is now just 43%, the lowest level seen over the past decade (in 2004, it was a similar 44%). At 21%, the percentage of Americans saying they have no confidence at all in the media is a record high.

To state the obvious, these numbers are almost certainly due to more than McCain's decision to run against the media as well as Barack Obama. But they also suggest that the McCain camp's strategy could pay off in the coming weeks. 

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