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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Media Perceptions

A recent Gallup poll shows that "trust" in the "media" is at an all-time low.

For the fourth straight year, the majority of Americans say they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 57% now saying this is a record high by one percentage point.


The 43% of Americans who, in Gallup's annual Governance poll, conducted Sept. 13-16, 2010, express a great deal or fair amount of trust ties the record low, and is far worse than three prior Gallup readings on this measure from the 1970s.

Trust in the media is now slightly higher than the record-low trust in the legislative branch but lower than trust in the executive and judicial branches of government, even though trust in all three branches is down sharply this year. These findings also further confirm a separate Gallup poll that found little confidence in newspapers and television specifically.

Nearly half of Americans (48%) say the media are too liberal, tying the high end of the narrow 44% to 48% range recorded over the past decade. One-third say the media are just about right while 15% say they are too conservative. Overall, perceptions of bias have remained quite steady over this tumultuous period of change for the media, marked by the growth of cable and Internet news sources. Americans' views now are in fact identical to those in 2004, despite the many changes in the industry since then.


When one takes a look at the breakdown of whom holds these particular views, there's one question that quickly springs to mind: Is Fox"News" not part of the media any longer?

73% of those calling themselves conservative thought the "media" had a liberal bias. This is not surprising, as one of the pillars of the modern conservative movement is to vilify the media - that is, unless you are Fox. So again, are they left out of this equation? When you look at the polling data, it's readily apparent that conservatives consider this to be a question about everyone else.

I found this hypothesis even more plausible when I noticed that Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air had taken this in the predictable direction of "who is to blame" for the loss in trust. Naturally, he cast the blame directly at the feet of Dan Rather:

What happened? The CBS attempt to smear George W. Bush with the phony Texas Air National Guard memos. That episode made clear the political tilt and the situational ethics of the “layers of editors and fact-checkers” at CBS, providing a clear basis for the always-present suspicion that the national news media occasionally cooked a story for their own political purposes.


While the Rather piece was accurate, despite the alleged "fabricated font" in the memo, this is the conservative line of attack - all media is biased against us if they attempt in any way to hold us accountable.

Again, just as in the Gallup results, Morrissey never makes mention of Fox"News", even though just days ago he cited polling data to push the narrative that most Americans "trusted" Fox"News" - despite the fact that the poll done by Politico and George Washington University had nothing to do with "trust", but simply what people watched regarding political information.

It becomes glaringly apparent that Morrissey ( and most conservatives )is attempting to have it both ways, and you simply can't do that. Well, you can, but free thinking people aren't going to take you seriously if you do.

As for me, I have to question everything put forward to me - media or otherwise. Despite the fact that conservatives operate under the failed notion that liberal/progressive Democrats will blindly follow Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, or anyone else on MSNBC, I have to dig deeper into things that they report on simply because that's how I've always been.

Were I to be questioned in this survey, I would have to offer the opinion that I don't think there is an across the board "liberal bias" in the media. I do, however, feel that there are far too many people working in media that allow conservative memes to run unchecked and unchallenged. And to take this further, I believe that of the big three cable news networks, MSNBC does have a more liberal leaning prime time line-up that completely distinguishes itself from the more straight-forward reportage that makes up the bulk of every 24hr cycle. Compare that with the unblushing way in which Fox"News" not only allows but urges virtually all their programs to be seriously tilted towards conservative Republican points of view and theatrics over solid reporting and you'll get not only a sense of why conservatives prefer Fox but why they would shy away if asked to defend their standpoints in the Gallup versus POLITICO polling data.

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