Poll: Americans consider Fox News, NYT, CNN, MSNBC ‘mainstream media’

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Most Americans consider both Fox News and The New York Times as “mainstream media,” according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center. 

In fact, more than 70 percent of those surveyed by Pew said all three major cable news networks in addition to the Times, The Wall Street Journal and ABC News were part of the “mainstream media.”

Pew conducted the poll in mid-March, asking a representative sample of 12,045 U.S. adults which of 13 outlets they considered to be part of the mainstream media, among other questions.

Eighty-seven percent said ABC News and CNN were a part of the mainstream media, while 79 percent said The New York Times was part of the mainstream media. 

The figures were 78 percent for MSNBC, 73 percent for Fox News and 71 percent for The Wall Street Journal. 

Sixty-one percent said the New York Post was part of the mainstream media. 

Other news organizations that Pew asked about were not seen as mainstream media by majorities of those polled.

For example, just 37 percent said HuffPost was “mainstream media” and only 22 percent and 20 percent said the same of BuzzFeed and Sean Hannity’s radio show, respectively. At the same time, well less than half of those polled said those news organizations were not a part of the mainstream media. 

The list was designed, Pew said, to “represent a range of audience size and original platform (i.e., television, print, digital or radio)” which is why outlets like CBS News or The Washington Post were not included.  

The poll comes after years in which former President Trump had a deeply antagonistic relationship with much of the news media, which he often referred to as “fake news.”

But a deeper look into the data suggests that familiarity with a given media outlet is more important than its perceived politics for Americans in determining whether it’s mainstream or not.

“Notably, while the term ‘mainstream media’ has been used in many partisan contexts, there is wide agreement between Republicans and Democrats about whether the outlets in the survey are part of the mainstream news media or not,” the study’s authors wrote. 

“Three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents see Fox News as part of the mainstream media, as do 72% of Democrats and Democratic leaners,” they added.

The study also found that the more viewers rely on a news outlet as their main source of political news, the more they think of it as mainstream. 

The only exception to that rule was the conservative network Newsmax. 

“Newsmax stands out,” the authors said, “because a majority of those who name it as their main source say it is not a part of the mainstream media (84%); only 16% say it is.”

However, when asked about the study, a spokesperson for Newsmax was unfazed. 

“Newsmax is an emerging and resonating TV brand, and we’re glad most people don’t think we’re the mainstream media, which holds little public confidence,” the spokesperson said via email.


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