A recent Gallup poll revealed some interesting findings on how Americans who identify as Republican or conservative versus Democrat or liberal perceive the mainstream media. The poll was conducted by phone interviews, from Sept. 4-7, where a random sample of 1017 people, from all 50 states and Washington, DC, were asked about their feelings towards the mass media.
The poll findings support earlier research trends that suggest that trust in the mainstream media amongst Americans, in general, is on the decline. Amongst those polled, only 40 percent of Americans expressed “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in mass media, which is down 15 percent from the results 15 years ago, in 1999, when 55 percent of Americans expressed trust in mass media.
The poll findings reveal a notable gap in media trust by all three major political parties (Democrats, Republicans and Independents), particularly amongst Democrats and Republicans. 54 percent of Democrats polled said they trust the media a great deal or a fair amount. By contrast, only 27 percent of Republicans said the same, which suggests that Democrats are twice as likely to express trust in the media as Republicans. Those who identify themselves as Independent are more likely to agree with Republicans, only 38 percent expressed a great deal or a fair amount of trust in the media.
Americans who identify themselves as Republicans are also more likely to perceive media bias, 71 percent of those polled believe the media is too liberal. By contest, 9 percent of Republicans polled believed the media was too conservative, a 62 percent difference from those who said it was too liberal. Only 18 percent of Republicans polled perceive the media bias as “just right,” not too conservative or too liberal.
Democrats, on the other hand, were almost equally as likely to perceive the media as too conservative as they were to perceive it as too liberal. 24 percent of Democrats polled expressed belief that the media is too conservative, compared to 20 percent who believe the media is too liberal. Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to perceive the media as fair and balanced, with 52 percent expressing such views.
Interestingly, the percentage of overall respondents who believe the media is too liberal has remained fairly steady over the last 12 years, ranging from 44-48 percent. By contrast, the percentage of respondents who view the media as too conservative has nearly doubled, with only 11 percent expressing such views in 2002, compared to 19 percent in the most recent poll.
Respondents who identified themselves as liberal were more than twice as likely to perceive the media as too conservative (33 percent) than as too liberal (15 percent). Almost half (49 percent) view the media to be fair and balanced, making them three times as likely to hold this view as conservatives.
By contrast, only 16 percent of those who identify as conservative view the media as fair and balanced. The overwhelming majority of conservatives polled view the media as too liberal (70 percent), making them four times as likely to perceive the media as too liberal than fair and balanced. Conservatives were also five times as likely to view the media as too liberal than too conservative.
Respondents who identified themselves as moderate were almost twice as likely to view the media as too liberal (35 percent) as they were to view the media is too conservative (18 percent). Moderates were also more than twice as likely as liberals, but only half as likely as conservatives, to view the media as too liberal. They were slightly less likely than liberals to believe the media is fair and balanced (44 percent).
Overall, the poll results suggest that those who identify as conservative are far less likely to trust the media than those who identify as moderate or liberal. It also suggests that those who identify as conservative are more likely to agree with those who identify as Republican, who are far more likely to express distrust in the media. These results strongly suggest that those who identify as conservative and Republican are far less likely than those who identify as liberal, moderate, Democrat or Independent to express trust in the mainstream media.
By Lindsey Dow