Say it ain’t so; nearly half of all Americans think the news media is “very biased,” according to a new “study of attitudes toward the press” by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, the Associated Press is reporting.
According to the AP report, “Eight percent of respondents — the preponderance of them politically conservative — think that news media that they distrust are trying to ruin the country.”
The current political divide is largely the fault of the media, according to 48 percent of the respondents, the story said. The study also revealed that 73 percent of Americans “feel that too much bias in news reports is a major problem, up from 65% two years ago.”
This revelation comes as Gallup is reporting only 13 percent of U.S. adults are “satisfied” with the current state of the nation, representing a decline of seven percentage points in the past month and an alarming 32 points since February, when public satisfaction with the country was at a 15-year high, according to Gallup.
The Gallup/Knight Foundation study shows there is a wide partisan gap when it comes to the news media. Seventy-one percent of Republicans have a “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable opinion about the media, according to the AP report. Meanwhile, only 22 percent of Democrats agree, while 54 percent of Democrats have a “very favorable” opinion of the news media, but only 13 percent of Republican s share that view.
Still, Gallup says more than 80 percent of Americans believe the news media is important to democracy.
The AP story quoted John Sands, director of learning and impact at the Knight Foundation, stating, “This is a bad thing for democracy.”
He suggested the national divide is deepening “particularly among conservatives,” the report said.
One excerpt from the overview of the report noted, “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.”
A couple of paragraphs later, the overview acknowledged, “Gallup and Knight publish these sobering findings at a moment when America’s media landscape is increasingly shaped by the financial exigencies of the attention economy — and when journalism, like other democratic institutions, is growing more vulnerable to polarization and eroding trust.”
As noted by the AP story, less than half of Americans (41%) “have a great deal of confidence in the ability of the media to report the news fairly, down from 55% in a similar survey in 1999.”
The random sampling of more than 20,000 American adults was done between Nov. 8, 2019 and Feb. 16 of this year, before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic became nightly news.