Beyond Bias: The mainstream press might want to spend less time complaining about President Donald Trump’s attacks on them and more time doing a better job. A new survey shows that a substantial majority of Americans think the press is biased, unreliable and out of touch.
The Pew Research Center surveyed more than 5,000 Americans — which is a huge number for such polls — to gauge their views on the mainstream news media.
The results won’t come as a surprise to many on the right. But they should be a clanging wake-up call for journalists and editors, as well as the owners of these news outlets. The survey shows that a large majority of the public finds today’s press biased, out of touch, and marginally informative, and that they cover up their own mistakes.
For an industry that relies on trust, these are dismal results.
Most of the coverage of the Pew survey is focused on its partisan findings. Republicans are more likely to claim bias, for example, and less likely to say the press is trustworthy or informative.
No surprise there. Nor is it surprising that the partisan divide over the press increased in the past two years, as the mainstream media openly declared war on Trump and has, as a result, fumbled several major stories.
What’s most surprising about the Pew findings is how widespread the mistrust is today, particularly among independents.
Pew found, for example, that 68% believe news organizations are biased. But among independents, the figure is a shockingly high 72%. Even most Democrats (52%) say the news media are biased.
What’s more, just over one in five (21%) say they trust the information they get from national news outlets “a lot.” That’s lower than local news (26%). And it’s not all that much higher than “friends, family and acquaintances.” Here, too, independents are highly skeptical, with just 19% saying they put a lot of trust in the information they get from the national press.
Only 17% of the public say the national news media keeps them very well-informed about national news.
Even more alarming, more than two thirds (68%) say that news organizations “try to cover up their mistakes.” Think about that. Most of the public essentially believes that news people are hypocrites — demanding accountability from others while acting Nixonian about their own flubs.