A Harris Interactive poll released this week found – perhaps to the surprise of cynics who lament Americans' taste in news - that fugitive NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden commanded more attention this summer than various tabloid dramas.
Seventy percent of respondents said they paid a great deal or some attention to Snowden's dramatic disclosure of documents about massive National Security Agency phone and Internet surveillance programs.
Just 53 percent said the same about coverage of TV chef Paula Deen admitting she used the "n-word," which prompted the Food Channel to drop her show. Fifty-two percent followed allegations that Major League Baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs, which resulted in the suspension of several prominent players.
Even New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's admission that he sent nude photographs of himself to young women he met online – after he resigned from Congress for doing just that - failed to rouse the public's interest. Forty-one percent paid a great deal or some attention to Weiner's drama.
Actress Amanda Bynes's supposedly erratic behavior, "American Idol" critic Simon Cowell's alleged love child and actress Reese Witherspoon's arrest for disorderly conduct each attracted the interest of one-fifth of respondents.
Democrats were significantly more likely than Republicans to pay attention to Deen's downfall – at 62 to 48 percent – and to Weiner's latest sexting scandal – at 48 to 36 percent.
In addition to paying closer attention to Snowden's disclosure of NSA secrets, a vast majority of respondents approved of the intense media focus on the whistle-blower – whose dramatic month-long stay in Moscow's airport concluded Aug. 1 when Russia granted him temporary asylum.
Just 19 percent said there was too much Snowden coverage. A whopping 61 percent said the same about Deen's troubles, 55 percent said so about Bynes, 52 percent about Cowell and 42 percent about Weiner. Twenty-eight percent said the MLB controversy was over-covered.
Forty-seven percent of the poll's 2,045 respondents told Harris that Snowden was brave to reveal the surveillance programs. Thirty-nine percent disagreed.
Respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 were most supportive of Snowden actions, a result that mirrors other poll results. Independent voters were more likely to approve than Republicans and Democrats. The survey was conducted Aug. 16-20.