Most view news media as biased, but critical to democracy: poll

Most view news media as biased, but critical to democracy: poll

Most polled Americans said they see a political bias in news coverage, but the overwhelming majority said the news media is still important to democracy, according to a new poll

A majority of those polled said they see either a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of political bias in news coverage, according to a survey the Knight Foundation released Tuesday. In the survey, 49 percent said they see a “great deal” of political bias and 37 percent said they see a “fair amount.” 

The percentage of respondents seeing a great deal of bias is up from 45 percent in 2017. 

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Most people also acknowledged that they see a bias in their go-to news source, with 20 percent noting a “great deal” and 36 percent noting a “fair amount” of bias in the news source they rely on most often. 

The same poll found that the vast majority of polled Americans, 84 percent, said the news media is important to democracy, with 49 percent saying it is “critical” and 35 percent saying it is “very important.” 

Across party lines, most said the media is under attack politically, but the parties are split on whether those attacks are merited. The survey found that 70 percent of Democrats said the media is under attack and it is not justified, but 61 percent of Republicans said such attacks are justified. 

Views about media also vary by age, according to the survey, with older respondents voicing more favorable views toward the news media than younger respondents. Forty-four percent of those age 65 and older have “very” or “somewhat” favorable views of the media, while just 19 percent under 30 said the same. 

The majority also said the media bears some blame for political division, with 48 percent saying the media bears a “great deal” of blame and 36 percent saying it bears a “moderate amount,” based on the poll. However, respondents also said the media can help heal the divide, with 49 percent saying the media can do a “great deal” to do so and 35 percent saying the media can do a “moderate amount.” 

The survey was conducted in partnership with Gallup. The results are based on self-administered mail surveys with a random sample of 20,046 U.S. adults. The results are based on mail interviews collected between Nov. 8, 2019 and Feb. 16, 2020. The margin of error is 1 percentage point.