Gallup: Huge Partisan Gap in Perception of Media Accuracy

Posted: Aug 28, 2017 1:45 PM

A recent Gallup poll on the media found that only 37 percent of Americans believe news organizations generally get the facts straight, a statistic unchanged from last year. What was noteworthy was the major partisan gap in this view. The survey found that just 14 percent of Republicans think the media “get the facts straight” compared to 62 percent of Democrats. 

The historical decline in Republicans' trust in the media and the Democrats’ rising favorable opinion is very marked.

“When Gallup first asked this question in 1998, over half of both Republicans (52%) and Democrats (53%) believed news organizations generally got the facts straight,” Gallup notes. “Both groups' belief in the accuracy of the media fell in late 2000, likely in response to mistaken election-night projections of the 2000 presidential election, which saw some networks first declare Democrat Al Gore and then Republican George W. Bush the winner, before ending the night with no official winner.”

In December of 2000, 23 percent of Republicans said news organizations generally get the facts straight compared to 40 percent of Democrats. Republicans’ view of the media’s accuracy improved slightly in 2003 to 35 percent but since then it has steadily declined while Democrats’ view of the media’s accuracy has only risen.

Gallup theorizes that the low trust in the media “seems at least partly attributable to President Donald Trump's frequent invective toward the media,” however, they add that a 2016 poll showed a “general loss of trust in the U.S. news media among Republicans over the previous 15 years, suggesting that Trump may be taking advantage of shifting GOP attitudes at least as much as creating them.”

After political affiliation the next greatest influence on someone’s perception of the media’s accuracy was education level.

“In 2017, 49% of college graduates say the news media generally get the facts straight, compared with 36% of Americans who attended college but did not graduate and 28% of those with no more than a high school education," Gallup found. "These effects are most pronounced among Democrats but are also apparent among independents.” 

Seventy-two percent of Democrats with a college degree trust the media compared to 48 percent of Democrats with just a high school education. Among Independents, 43 percent with a college degree trust the media compared to 25 percent with just a high school degree. However, just 18 percent of Republicans with a college degree think the media get the facts straight, only slightly more than the 12 percent of Republicans with only a high school education. 

Gallup’s survey was “based on telephone interviews conducted March 9-29 and July 5-9, 2017, with a random sample of 1,810 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.”

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