Eighty-six percent of Americans believe there is “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of political bias in the way the media covers news, according to a Knight Foundation/Gallup poll released on Tuesday. The number of Americans that see bias in the media is up almost 25 percentage points from 62 percent in 2007. Almost half of Americans — 49 percent — now say there’s a great deal of political bias in news coverage.
While Republicans are more likely to say there’s a “great deal” of bias and Democrats more often said there was a “fair amount,” large majorities of both political parties believed that some bias existed: 78 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Republicans.
These numbers were collected from polling of more than 20,000 Americans between November and February, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd, and the resulting media coverage of both events.
Not only do most Americans recognize media bias, they also believe it’s intentional. When asked about their views of news organizations they distrust, 79 percent of poll respondents said those outlets were “trying to persuade people to adopt a certain viewpoint.” When news is inaccurate, 54 percent of Americans think it’s because reporters are “misrepresenting the facts,” while 28 percent assume they’re “making them up entirely.”
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And more than 8 in 10 Americans — 84 percent — assign the media either a great deal (48 percent) or a moderate amount (36 percent) of blame for political division.
It’s not that Americans don’t have high expectations for what the media should be doing; they just don’t think the news industry is hitting the mark. Eighty-four percent said news media is critical or very important to democracy, and 92 percent believe that providing “accurate and fair news reports” is a critical or very important role.
But almost three-fourths (73 percent) of Americans believe it’s a “major problem” for so much bias to exist in news that’s supposed to be objective. That number has increased from 65 percent in 2017.
Over half — 56 percent — also admitted to recognizing bias in their own go-to publications.
Finally, younger Americans are trusting the media less than their parents and grandparents. Only 19 percent of Americans under 30 and 27 percent of Americans 30-49 had a favorable opinion of the news media, compared with 44 percent of those over 65.