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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Public Opinion, Media Bias, and Polarization

From the Knight Foundation:
For the 2020 American Views survey, Gallup and Knight polled more than 20,000 U.S. adults and found deepening pessimism and further partisan entrenchment about how the news media delivers on its democratic mandate for factual, trustworthy information. Many Americans feel the media’s critical role of informing and holding those in power accountable is compromised by increasing bias. As such, Americans have not only lost confidence in the ideal of an objective media, they believe news organizations actively support the partisan divide. At the same time, Americans have not lost sight of the value of news — strong majorities uphold the ideal that the news media is fundamental to a healthy democracy.
  • Almost three-fourths of Republicans (71%) have a “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable opinion of the news media, compared to 22% of Democrats and 52% of independents.
  • Democrats and Republicans differ greatly in their ratings of the media on every aspect of performance, including providing objective news reports, holding political and business leaders accountable for their actions and helping Americans stay informed about current affairs.
  • Sixty-nine percent of Americans, including 61% of Democrats, say the increasing number of news sources reporting from a particular point of view is “a major problem.” In contrast, 77% of Republicans say the same.
  • While a majority of Americans across the political spectrum (80%) say the media is under attack politically, they are divided as to whether those attacks are merited. Whereas 70% of Democrats say the media is under attack and those attacks are not justified, 61% of Republicans say such attacks are justified.
  • In addition to partisan differences in media attitudes, views also vary by age, with older Americans generally more favorable toward the news media than younger Americans. Whereas 44% of Americans aged 65 and older have “very” or “somewhat” favorable views of the media, less than 1 in 5 Americans under age 30 (19%) say the same.