A brand new Pew Research study shows that America’s belief in the media is at its lowest since the company started collecting this data in 1985. Only 29% of Americans say that news organizations get the facts correct, while 63% say that news stories are often bogus. New fairness numbers wer actually beginning to rise in the early part of this decade, but since the beginning of the most recent campaign, confidence in the media has plummeted.
The major belief of the public is that media coverage is politically biased:
…..only about a quarter (26%) now say that news organizations are careful that their reporting is not politically biased, compared with 60% who say news organizations are politically biased. And the percentages saying that news organizations are independent of powerful people and organizations (20%) or are willing to admit their mistakes (21%) now also match all-time lows.
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…much of the growth in negative attitudes toward the news media over the last two years is driven by increasingly unfavorable evaluations by Democrats. On several measures, Democratic criticism of the news media has grown by double-digits since 2007. Today, most Democrats (59%) say that the ….Democrats are also now more likely than they were in 2007 to identify favoritism in the media: Two-thirds (67%) say the press tends to favor one side rather than to treat all sides fairly, up from 54%. And while just a third of Democrats (33%) say news organizations are “too critical of America,” that reflects a 10-point increase since 2007.
Democrats hold considerably more positive views than Republicans of CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and the news operations of the broadcast networks, and their views of National Public Radio are somewhat more favorable than those of Republicans. By contrast, views of Fox News — and to a lesser extent The Wall Street Journal — are more positive among Republicans than Democrats.
Partisan differences in views of Fox News have increased substantially since 2007. Today, a large majority of Republicans view Fox News positively (72%), compared with just 43% of Democrats. In 2007, 73% of Republicans and 61% of Democrats viewed Fox News favorably. Three-quarters (75%) of Democrats assess CNN favorably, while just 44% of Republicans do so, which is little changed from two years ago. MSNBC also rates substantially higher among Democrats (60%) than among Republicans (34%).
But the starkest partisan division is seen in assessments of The New York Times. Although most Americans are not familiar enough with the Times to express an opinion, Republicans view The New York Times negatively by a margin of nearly two-to-one (31% to 16%), while Democrats view it positively by an almost five-to-one margin (39% to 8%). More independents rate the Times favorably (29%) than unfavorably (18%).
The poll finds that television remains the dominant news source for the public, with 71% saying they get most of their national and international news from television. More than four-in-ten (42%) say they get most of their news on these subjects from the internet, compared with 33% who cite newspapers. Last December, for the first time in a Pew Research Center survey, more people said they got most of their national and international news from the internet than said newspapers were their main source.
However, online news lags behind newspapers as a source for news about local issues. As with national and international news, most people (64%) cite television as their main source for local news. Yet despite declines in newspaper readership over the last several years, about four-in-ten people (41%) turn to newspapers for news about issues and events in their local area, more than twice the number that turn to the internet for local news (17%).
The public has long been critical of the press in several areas: in 1985, majorities said that news organizations tried to cover up mistakes, tended to favor one side on political and social issues and were influenced by the powerful.
However, in that initial survey on press performance, conducted by the Times-Mirror Center, most people (55%) said that news organizations “get the facts straight,” while 34% said stories were often inaccurate.
Opinions about the accuracy of news stories fluctuated over the next decade, but by the late 1990s majorities said that news stories are often inaccurate. That has been the case for the past decade as well, with the exception of a brief period in fall 2001, when coverage of 9/11 and terrorism boosted the press’s positive ratings. In the current survey, 63% say news stories are often inaccurate.
Similarly, the proportion saying news organizations “try to cover up their mistakes” has reached a high of 70%, up from 63% two years ago. In 1985, a smaller majority (55%) said news organizations tried to cover up their mistakes. And while most Americans (59%) see news organizations as “highly professional,” the proportion expressing this view also has slipped since 2007 (66%). In 1985, 72% said news organizations were highly professional.
The pattern is the same regarding public attitudes about whether the press is biased, deals with all sides fairly, and is independent.
In 1985, fewer than half (45%) said news organizations were politically biased, while 36% said they were careful to avoid bias. Today, by greater than two-to-one (60% to 26%), more say the press is biased.
Nearly three-quarters (74%) say news organizations tend to favor one side in dealing with political and social issues, while just 18% say they deal fairly with all sides. The proportion saying the press favors one side has risen eight points since 2007 (from 66%). In 1985, a much smaller majority (53%) said the press favored one side.
There has been a comparable shift in views of the press’s independence. Nearly three-quarters (74%) now say news organizations are influenced by powerful people and organizations compared with 20% who say they are pretty independent. In 1985, by a far smaller margin, more said that news organizations were influenced by the powerful than said they were pretty independent (53% to 37%).
Notably, the balance of opinion about whether news organizations are liberal or conservative has changed little since 1985. At that time, about twice as many said the press was liberal than conservative (40% vs. 19%). That continues to be the case today (50% vs. 22%), although somewhat more people offer an opinion about this issue than did so then.
In 1985, there were at most modest differences between Republicans and Democrats in views of press bias, fairness, the accuracy of news stories and whether powerful people and institutions exert too much influence over news organizations.
By the late 1990s, more Republicans than Democrats said the press was politically biased and tended to favor one side in dealing with political and social issues. Yet on basic issues relating to press professionalism and the accuracy of news stories, there continued to be no significant partisan differences.
During George W. Bush’s presidency, the partisan gap over most views of press performance increased markedly. In 2005, the proportion of Republicans saying news stories are often inaccurate reached a high of 68%: just 47% of Democrats agreed. Roughly a third of Republicans (34%) said news organizations were “not professional,” compared with 20% of Democrats.
But the most striking change during the Bush years came in opinions about whether news organizations “stand up for America” or are “too critical of America.” The proportion of Republicans saying the press is too critical of America jumped from 47% in 2003 to 67% in 2005; at the same time, the partisan gap in views on this issue nearly tripled – from 15 points to 43 points.
In the current survey, opinions about whether the press is too critical of America – as well as whether its stories are inaccurate and whether it tends to favor one side on political issues – have become less partisan as Democratic criticisms of news organizations have increased.
At the same time, however, the partisan gap has widened since 2007 in opinions about whether news organizations are not professional (from eight to 21 points) and are often influenced by powerful people and organizations (from 10 points to 17 points). In both cases, Republicans express more negative views of news organizations than at any point in the 24-year history of the survey; 39% say news organizations are not professional while 83% say they are often influenced by the powerful.
About six-in-ten Americans (62%) say that news organizations are being fair to the Obama administration, while 23% say media coverage has been unfair. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans (73%) say coverage of the administration has been fair, compared with 54% of Democrats and 67% of independents.
Historically, members of the party controlling the White House have been less likely to see coverage of the administration as fair. In November 2005, for example, 50% of the public said that coverage of George W. Bush’s administration was fair. While about two-thirds of Democrats (68%) viewed the coverage as fair, just a quarter of Republicans (25%) agreed.
In February 1998, shortly after the initial allegations that President Clinton had had a sexual relationship with a White House intern, the public was divided in its views of coverage of Bill Clinton’s administration; 49% said it was fair, while 44% said it was unfair. Only about a third of Democrats (34%) thought coverage of the administration had been fair, compared with 66% of Republicans and 54% of independents.
At this point, public perceptions of coverage of the new Obama administration are similar to views in August of Bill Clinton’s first term. At that time, 66% said coverage of the new administration had been fair, while 21% said they saw it as unfair. Among partisans, 77% of Republicans said coverage was fair, compared with 61% of Democrats and 66% of independents.
But the public does see the media growing increasingly critical of the Obama administration, according to a separate measure in the Pew Research Center’s News Interest Index survey. In mid-August, a plurality of Americans (43%) said press coverage of Obama had been fair, but that figure had declined by 10 points since early June, and was down from 64% in January as Obama took office. The proportion saying that coverage of Obama had become too critical increased since early June – from 16% to 23%; the proportion of Democrats who said coverage of Obama was too critical nearly doubled during this period (from 22% in June to 40% in August). There was virtually no change in the percentage who said coverage of Obama had not been critical enough.
There is a similar pattern of partisanship in opinions about whether criticism of political leaders by news organizations keeps leaders from doing things that should not be done, or whether it keeps leaders from doing their job. For more than two decades, majorities have expressed the view that a critical press keeps leaders from doing things that should not be done – but the views of Republicans and Democrats shift depending on which party controls the White House.
Currently, 62% say that criticism of political leaders is worthwhile because it keeps those leaders from doing things that should not be done, while 22% say such criticism keeps leaders from doing their jobs. Two years ago, 58% said that press criticism did more good than harm.
In the new survey, 65% of Republicans believe that criticism does more good than harm, compared with 55% of Democrats and 66% of independents. That stands in stark contrast to the way that Republicans viewed the press’s watchdog role when George W. Bush was in the White House. Two years ago, for example, just 44% of Republicans said that press criticism of political leaders did more good than harm; that compared with 60% of independents and 71% of Democrats.
Its time for the media to wake up and smell the Hummus, they are losing audience because they are simply not believable. At least NBC has the excuse of GE, their parent company trying to get valuable government contracts, but what is the excuse for everyone else. If they really be believe the public is a dumb as they think, the mainstream media has another thing coming.
You can read the rest of the story at Pew’s Site Here.