Free Markets, Free People
Shocking news–public sees media as biased
I know, I know, you’re asking “how in the world can that be”?
Uh, where were you during the last presidential election cycle?
Seriously, I think, as I mentioned in a recent post, that’s when it became obvious to even the most unaware. And it hasn’t gotten any better if you’ve been following any of the recent political debate/theater:
Likely voters hold a dismal view of the news media, generally regarding reporters as biased, unethical and too close to the politicians they purport to cover, according to a new poll for The Hill.
A full 68 percent of voters consider the news media biased, the poll found. Most, 46 percent, believe the media generally favor Democrats, while 22 percent said they believe Republicans are favored, with 28 percent saying the media is reasonably balanced.
“Dismal view”. Pretty descriptive, no? The only thing the numbers in the cite make you wonder is where the 28% who think it is reasonably balanced get their news.
The share of voters who believe the media are too friendly with politicians is almost twice as large as those who find their coverage of politicians appropriate. Forty-four percent of voters assert the former; only 24 percent believe the latter.
I think those who believe the media are too friendly with politicians is absolutely correct. It’s hard to maintain objectivity and ask hard questions when a reporter who does so suddenly finds access more and more limited. The “go along to get along” syndrome is certainly at work. After all, no access, no job.
More importantly though:
The picture is not much brighter on the general question of ethics. Fifty-seven percent of voters think of the news media as either somewhat or very unethical, while only 39 percent see them as somewhat or very ethical.
This comes from all sorts of things the media has done over the years. From fraudulent stories to flat ignoring them. Puff pieces and the refusal to hold different politicians to the same standard have taken their toll. For instance is there anything we don’t know about Sarah Palin v. asking what do we really know about the President of the US? Certainly not his college grades or much else about his academic accomplishments. Yet the press descended on Alaska like a swarm of locust when Palin’s emails as governor were released.
Given the results of the poll it’s clear the public thinks the media has earned this reputation. And while I expect the media to reject the poll as an example of public ignorance (after all you can’t be a “journalist” until you go to J-school. So how could you understand the intricacies of journalism ignorant peasant?).
Anyway, some other interesting trends emerge from this poll:
Self-described centrists and liberals, for example, tend to hold a less unremittingly harsh view than conservatives.
The proportion of moderates who believe the news media generally report on politicians in an appropriate way is, at 33 percent, almost twice as large as the 17 percent of conservatives who take the same view.
At the same time, however, centrists tend to think the news media favor one side in their reporting. Thirty-nine percent of centrists endorse the idea that the media favor Democrats while 19 percent think they favor Republicans.
There is some evidence of a gender divide in terms of the media’s overall stance toward politicians. Men are significantly more likely than women to see the news media as too friendly with politicians. Fifty percent of men think the media are too friendly; 38 percent of women take the same view. Twenty-two percent of women think the news media are too hostile toward politicians — a view that is shared by only 12 percent of men.
I’m sure none of those particular numbers would surprise most observers. They track pretty much as I’d figure they would. The media needs to pay attention. More and more people are turning to other sources, especially in the new media, to try to get the real story on incidents. The establishment media continues to try to ignore that. They do so at their own peril. It is obvious that the public wants objective news reporting. It is going to continue to seek sources for that. In the area of opinion, they’ll seek those whose opinions they respect. But what they don’t want, as this poll seems to indicate, is opinion disguised as news or some lackey posing as a reporter lobbing softball questions at a politician while ignoring the hard ones.