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Two-thirds of Americans (66%) believe ad agencies have at least some responsibility for the current economic crisis because they caused people to buy things they couldn’t afford, according to (pdf) findings from a Harris Interactive poll completed earlier this month.


Media Close Behind

The media is not far behind ad agencies when it comes to responsibility, the survey also found. Nearly three in five Americans (59%) say print media – such as newspapers and magazines – deserve at last some responsibility for the economic crisis, while 56% assign at least some of the blame to news and information websites.


Just more than half of Americans say talk shows on TV or radio (55%), cable news programs (54%) and network and local news programs (53%) all have at least some responsibility for the current economic crisis because they caused people to buy things they couldn’t afford, Harris said.

Nearly Half Blame Friends and Family

Though many Americans are quick to point the finger at the media and ad agencies, a significant number also are willing to look at those closer to home. Nearly half (46%) assign some of the blame for the economic crisis to their friends and family, though the majority of Americans (54%) still say their personal circle of influence bears no responsibility.

Age Divide Over Blame

The poll also found an age divide over who is to blame for the economic crisis, Harris reported. People ages 55+ are more likely to blame the five media categories and the advertising agencies. In contrast, those ages 18-34 are less likely to say these six groups have at least some responsibility and are more likely to blame their friends and family.


For example, three-quarters of the older age group (75%) say advertising agencies have at least some responsibility compared to three in five (60%) 18-34 year olds. When it comes to print media, two-thirds of those ages 55+ (67%) say they have at least some responsibility while just half of the younger age group (51%) say print media has at least some responsibility.

About the survey: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between March 31 and April 1, 2009 among 2,220 adults (ages 18+) who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

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