Twice as many Republicans 'strongly agree' it is harmful for media to exaggerate coronavirus threat: poll

Twice as many Republicans than Democrats said in a new poll that they "strongly agree"  that media coverage exaggerating the threat of the novel coronavirus is harmful.

Specifically, the poll of nearly 1,700 adults from Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that 68 percent of Republicans strongly agree that it is harmful for the press to exaggerate the threat, while just 34 percent of Democrats gave the same response.

Twice as many Democrats as Republicans strongly agree, meanwhile, that downplaying the threat in the media is harmful.

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Pollsters also discovered that 77 percent of respondents overall feel the "news media should cover statements or actions from officials that contributed to making the crisis worse" immediately, while just 11 percent believe the media should wait to cover that information until "the worst of the crisis is over."

"Americans have been more likely to disapprove than approve of the news media's response to the coronavirus situation at a time when most other institutions' responses have been rated more positively than negatively," Gallup and Knight noted in a statement. "This may indicate that people do not see the media as getting coronavirus coverage quite right -- either drifting too far in the direction of downplaying the threat or too far in the direction of exaggerating it."

"The public recognizes the stakes are higher in coronavirus coverage, likely more than for other issues, given the pandemic's impact on public health, the U.S. economy and Americans' wellbeing," they added.

The findings come as the handling of the coronavirus crisis appears to be a top issue of the 2020 presidential election, with many political observers saying President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Anderson Cooper: Trump's Bubba Wallace tweet was 'racist, just plain and simple' Beats by Dre announces deal with Bubba Wallace, defends him after Trump remarks Overnight Defense: DOD reportedly eyeing Confederate flag ban | House military spending bill blocks wall funding MORE's reelection hopes will come down to his performance from a health and economic recovery perspective.

Gallup found in a separate May poll that 50 percent of Americans approved of Trump's handling of the crisis, with the same poll also showing 41 percent of those surveyed approved of the media's handling of coverage.