New Poll: Most Americans See Media As Biased and Favoring Obama
Published: 9/24/2009 2:08 PM ET
A new poll on "Trust and Satisfaction with the National News Media" from Sacred Heart University's Polling Institute finds five out of six Americans (83.6%) see the national news media as "very or somewhat biased," and nearly nine out of ten (89.3%) say the media were a strong factor in electing Barack Obama as President last year.
Coming on the heels of a survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which found "the public's assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades," the SHU survey suggests the news media have squandered the trust of most Americans. According to the Sacred Heart poll, "67.9% agreed with a statement that read: 'Old-style, traditionally objective and fair journalism is dead.'"
The SHU poll surveyed 800 Americans from September 8 through September 11. The results were summarized in a long news release posted on the university's Web site. Among the key findings:
# Nearly 70 percent of Americans say the national news media are intent on promoting the Obama presidency;
# More than half said the news media are uncritically promoting Obama's health care plan;
# Six out of seven Americans "strongly or somewhat agreed that the news media have their own political and public policy positions and attempt to influence public opinion."
[UPDATE on NewsBusters: "FNC's Baier Shares Poll on How 90% Recognize Media Helped Obama Win"]
The release quoted Sacred Heart University Media Studies and Digital Culture Associate Professor, Dr. James Castonguay: "The results suggest that we are witnessing a new era of partisan media with the important difference that current news outlets claim to be offering objective coverage when they often aren't."
Key excerpts from the September 23 news release:
Respondents were asked if they believed all, most, some, little or none of news media reporting. Just 24.3% indicated they believe all or most news media reporting. While this is up from 19.6% in 2007, it remains lower than the 27.4% recorded in 2003....Click here for the complete news release from Sacred Heart University.
In 2009, 86.6% (87.6% in 2007 and 70.3% in 2003) strongly and somewhat agreed that the news media have their own political and public policy positions and attempt to influence public opinion. And, 85.3% (86.0% in 2007 and 76.7% in 2003) strongly and somewhat agreed that the news media have their own political positions and attempt to influence public policies.
"The results suggest that we are witnessing a new era of partisan media with the important difference that current news outlets claim to be offering objective coverage when they often aren't," says Sacred Heart University Media Studies and Digital Culture Associate Professor, Dr. James Castonguay.
Researchers were asked which national television news organization they trusted most for accurate reporting. Fox News was named by 30.0% of all respondents - up from 19.5% in 2003 and 27.0% in 2007....
Poll results found 83.6% saw national news media organizations as very or somewhat biased while just 14.1% viewed them as somewhat unbiased or not at all biased. Some, 2.4%, were unsure.
A large majority, 89.3%, suggested the national media played a very or somewhat strong role in helping to elect President Obama. Just 10.0% suggested the national media played little or no role. Further, 69.9% agreed the national news media are intent on promoting the Obama presidency while 26.5% disagreed. Some, 3.6% were unsure.
Over half of Americans surveyed, 56.4%, said they agreed that the news media are promoting President Obama's healthcare reform without objective criticism. Another 39.3% disagreed and 4.3% were unsure. Further, a majority, 57.6% of those surveyed agreed that the news media appear to be coordinating efforts to diminish the record of former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin. One third, 34.6%, disagreed and 7.9% were unsure.
"It is sad," suggested Jerry C. Lindsley, director of the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute, "when we find that only 55.9% say they expect the media to tell them the truth today." He added, "This perception of bias will eventually catch up with the news media outlets - we found 45.9% have permanently stopped watching a news media organization, print or electronic, because of perceived bias."...
END of excerpt.
For more details on the Pew Research Center survey, read the September 14 BiasAlert.
For many more related polls, check the "How the Public Views the Media" section of the MRC's Media Bias Basics.
- Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center.