There is a reason why very few writers will tackle the issue of which TV broadcast news organization is viewed most favorably the public -- they know they may be blackballed from appearing as talking-head guests. But who cares? Let the chips fall where they may.
The coverage of Ronald Reagan's death and funeral last week prompted some of his longtime supporters to scratch their heads in wonder. How was it that most network coverage during his presidency was slanted against anything he touched, but now that he's dead, he's suddenly seen in a kinder light? Well, time is the great healer of almost all political grudges. Nevertheless, the subject does create a perfect opportunity to discuss the surprising results of a recent InsiderAdvantage polling question about TV cable news networks. We asked:
"Which of these cable news organizations do you think is least biased and most objective in their reporting?"
FOX News Channel: 31 percent
CNN: 30 percent
MSNBC: 14 percent
None, all the same: 11 percent
No opinion/Don't know: 14 percent
The poll was conducted May 21-22 among 500 likely voters nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
First, MSNBC. The network has the fewest viewers, and therefore the lowest score. For my own money, I find their coverage to be extremely well-balanced. Of course, I closely watch all three networks, so I'm keenly aware of all three.
As for the two most-watched cable news channels, I was initially shocked that FOX did not clean CNN's clock, given that they constantly point to their "fair and balanced" approach to the news. And while these results are good news for CNN, the InsiderAdvantage survey should give some comfort to the folks at FOX.
Let me explain. A recent Pew Research Center survey reported that 29 percent of Republicans -- FOX News' core viewership -- "believe most or all" of what they see on that network. Twenty-six percent of Republicans put the same trust in CNN, according to the same survey.
The InsiderAdvantage poll shows an entirely different picture that I believe is more realistic. In our survey, 46 percent of self-identified Republicans thought FOX the least biased and most objective, while only 23 percent said the same of CNN. Doesn't that make more intuitive sense? Surely no one at the two cable news giants is surprised. As for the Pew results, I'll only say that those in the polling industry probably won't be surprised at that pollster's curious findings.