Pew Research Center report: US divided on media’s ability to report political issues fairly

Pew Research Center report: US divided on media’s ability to report political issues fairly
A report by the Pew Research Center has found that of 38 countries polled, the U.S. is the most divided in public opinion regarding news organizations' ability to report political issues fairly. Newspapers are displayed at a newsstand in October 2009 in San Francisco. (2009 file photo/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A report by Pew Research Center published Thursday found that of 38 countries polled, the U.S. is the most divided in public opinion regarding news organizations’ ability to report political issues fairly.

While 78 percent of Americans say the news media “should never favor one political party over another . . .  there are sharp political differences in views of the media – with the largest gap among Americans.”

The division runs along partisan lines, with Republicans expressing the highest levels of dissatisfaction toward the media. The study found that only 21 percent of Trump supporters “believe the media is doing a worse job covering politics than the supporters of any of the other international political leaders in countries surveyed.”

The report builds on a May 2017 report by Pew, which revealed that  89 percent of Democrats believe that journalists’ role as a watchdog “keeps leaders in line,” compared to only 42 percent of Republicans.

The report determined that Americans turn to news outlets along partisan lines. Right-leaning audiences insist that there is a liberal bias in the media, to which left-leaning audiences insist that there is only the perception of bias, that it is a conservative fabrication. Liberal audiences tend not only to deny a liberal bias, but to insist that there is no bias at all.

The insistence on a liberal bias in the media comes mostly from conservative audiences, although, according to a 2017 Gallup poll, “[n]early half of Democrats agree that the media favors their own party, which means most Americans think reporters have a liberal predilection.”

They do.

The majority of journalists are liberal, 34 percent, compared to the 7 percent that identify as conservative. And a disproportionate amount, 50 percent, identify as Independent. Liberals tend to view the news media as neutral, while conservatives tend to view the news media as slanted against them.

But I’m sure none of this is news to you.

29 Comments