Free Markets, Free People
Rasmussen has a poll out about the public’s perception of the media. The media in question is the old media, both print and broadcast I assume. Many of the numbers don’t come as a particular suprise. For instance, 66% of those surveyed expressed some anger at the media, with 33% saying they were “very angry”.
Only 9% felt no anger at all, a part of the 31% that said they felt little or no anger at the press.
The primary reason for the anger was two-fold. One they felt there was a liberal bias (51%), but more importantly, they felt reporters (who a slight majority believe to be biased) will write stories that help their candidate of choice and (54%) even hide things which might hurt that candidate.
In other words, the majority of the public believes it can’t get unbiased coverage of campaigns.
Nothing particularly new there. But something which did catch my eye was the 55% who think media bias is a bigger problem than campaign contributions.
Unhappiness with the media comes at a time when many government policies are unpopular with a majority of voters and two-thirds (67%) think the news media has too much influence over the actions of government. Sixty-two percent (62%) say what the media thinks is more important to the average member of Congress than what voters think.
I think the pubic may have a point here. The media’s influence is outsized, especially when compared to what impact it has vs. public opinion. How else does one explain health care reform? If you remember, it was only after the bill was passed that we began to see the analysis emerge from mainstream news orgainzations that began framing the consequences of the bill in a negative light.
Like politicians, the media has dug it’s own hole in the perceptions of the public. I think one of the reasons for the rise of the political blog is the public can get a different slant on the news, and, given most blogs proudly announce their biases, weigh the news with the given bias in mind.
Most blogs don’t play at being objective and many times that can be a refreshing difference, since you can then go to blogs which identify with each ideological side and get their versions of the same policy, event or speech. I think this access and availability to diverse but biased opinion has helped shape the recurring perception that the old media is biased. It sort of points itself out when you read an old media article and see the same sort of reporting on a politically biased blog site while finding another explanation (and sometimes other facts) on an opposing blog.
As has been said many times, perception is reality, and the reality is that most of the public isn’t buying the old media’s claims of objective reporting – and for a good reason.