Free Markets, Free People

confirmation bias

American majority perceives media bias

We’ve talked about this for quite some time, years in fact (hit the media category for previous discussions).  And we’ve been told countless times by the media and media apologists that is just isn’t true, because, you know, they’re professionals.

But the the world of opinion, perception is reality.  People’s opinions of an organization or institution are formed around their perceptions of that organization or institution.  In the case of the media, it appears they have earned the reputation of a biased institution.  Whether they agree that’s true or not is really incidental.  Their “customers”, in the majority, believe it.  And thus, to them, it’s true.

The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 44% of Americans who have a great deal or fair amount of trust and the 55% who have little or no trust remain among the most negative views Gallup has measured.

That’s an earned reputation, especially after the last election when the media refused to the vetting of Obama that is customary for a presidential candidate while going into full feeding frenzy over Sarah Palin.  The difference was obvious even to the most disinterested of Americans.  And there are numerous other examples.  But primarily it was the obviousness of the political bias demonstrated by the media in that election which sealed the deal for many.

Key point:

Partisans continue to perceive the media very differently. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and conservatives say the media are too liberal. Democrats and liberals lean more toward saying the media are "just about right," at 57% and 42%, respectively. Moderates and independents diverge, however, with 50% of independents saying the media are too liberal and 50% of moderates saying they are just about right.

Interesting that those who see no bias but see it “just about right” are on the left.  Look up the term “confirmation bias”.  Notice there isn’t a category saying the media is “too conservative”?

What should the media as a whole take away from such a poll?

That they’ve lost the trust of the majority of America in their ability to report the news in a factual, complete and unbiased manner.

That’s a very difficult perception to reverse.  Trust is not something given lightly by most people.  And once violated, very difficult to win back.  The media has become it’s own worst enemy.  It refuses to acknowledge this perception of the public and thus makes no effort to self-correct.   And because of that the perception is constantly revalidated and the erosion of the trust factor continues.

Without the ability to self-correct, the media will continue with its business as usual.   And, as it has seen, on-line competition will continue to grow and prosper.  I’m biased and you know it.  You can filter that out.  But I make no pretense or claim to the contrary.

Perhaps full disclosure by the media would be the way to change the trust factor.  It certainly would be refreshing.  But, as I note, they don’t believe it of themselves, so why would they change?

And its not just Gallup finding these things:

In a report released Thursday, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found record-high negativity toward the media on 9 of 12 core measures it tracks.

Hope they enjoy their earned reputation.


Twitter: @McQandO