News Interest Index: Strong Interest in AIG, Positive Views of Congress' Response

  • March 25, 2009

The controversy over the millions of dollars in bonuses paid to AIG employees attracted considerable public interest last week. In fact, about as many people tracked that story very closely (50%) as followed news about the overall economy very closely (52%). The AIG controversy was the most closely followed story of the week for 29% of Americans, approaching that of the economic crisis overall (35%).

While the AIG bonuses drew more coverage than general economic news last week, the public did not view the AIG coverage as excessive: 47% said that news organizations gave the right amount of coverage to the controversy, while 28% say there was too much coverage and 23% believe that AIG was undercovered.

The public also expressed positive views of Congress' response to the AIG situation. Spurred by anger over the millions paid in bonuses by AIG and other financial firms that received government bailout money, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation imposing a 90% tax on such bonuses. Overall, 58% of Americans say that Congress' response to AIG paying bonuses while receiving government assistance was appropriate compared with 30% who say lawmakers made too much of  the situation.

Read the full report Strong Interest in AIG, Positive Views of Congress' Response on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.