Forty-five percent of Americans believe the nation’s news media are too liberal, according to a new Gallup Poll.
That percentage is pretty much unchanged over the last four years, despite attention to bestsellers alleging media bias, like Bernard Goldberg’s Bias and Slander by Ann Coulter, and ratings success for Fox News channel, which appeals to conservative viewers who feel the traditional news media are liberal and biased.
Conservatives were most likely to perceive a media bias. Sixty percent of conservatives said the media are too liberal, compared to 40 percent of moderates and 18 percent of liberals.
More than half of Americans, however, feel either the media is too conservative (14 percent) or its ideology is “just about right” (39 percent).
A majority (54 percent) say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the mass media, such as newspapers, T.V. and radio, when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly. That’s considerably lower than the levels of confidence expressed in the branches of the U.S. government—the judicial (67 percent), legislative (63 percent) and executive (60 percent).
Trust levels in the media have declined from the post-Watergate era in the 1970s, when about seven Americans in 10 said they trusted the media, but have remained steady within the mid-50 percent range for the last six years. That is despite increasing ideological criticism of the news media and high-profile missteps such as the scandal involving former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair.
Fewer Americans describe themselves as liberals (20 percent) than conservatives or moderates (about 40 percent each), and liberals were half as likely to view the media as too conservative (30 percent) as conservatives were to say it is too liberal. Eighteen percent of liberals agree the media is too liberal, while just 9 percent of conservatives say the media is too conservative.
The results are based on telephone interviews 1,025 adults conducted Sept. 8-10, a sample with a margin of error of 3 percent.