On Sunday’s “Full Measure,” investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson talked about a just-released survey about the American public’s perception of the media.
The eye-opening study reveals that the coverage of candidate and President Donald Trump has fueled an enormous, rapidly growing divide between the political parties when it comes to opinions about media bias and trustworthiness.
Attkisson sat down with Katerina Matsa, senior researcher with the Pew Research Center, the group that conducted the survey.
“In 2017, we decided to re-ask a number of questions on American’s media attitudes, that we already had asked in 2016,” Matsa said. “How they view the media, what they think about the media. Our goal was more to get our trends and see how these attitudes have changed or not changed from the past year.”
Attkisson: In the early days of the Trump administration, what did you learn about whether Americans feel that news media criticism of political leaders is productive, or not productive?
Matsa: That was one of the widest gaps that we saw between Republicans and Democrats, basically on the media as watchdog, or what we say watchdog role.
Nearly 90 percent of Democrats (89 percent) say news media criticism serves to keep leaders in line. But less than half of Republicans (42 percent) say the same.
Matsa: That was a 47 percent point gap between Republicans and Democrats on that question.
Attkisson: Is that a big difference from past surveys?
Matsa: From 2016 that is a big difference.
In fact, in early 2016, in the middle of the presidential primary season, Democrats and Republicans saw eye to eye on this particular question.
At that time, support for the media’s watchdog role was about the same among Democrats (74 percent) and Republicans (77 percent). Before now, the biggest gap was under President George W. Bush, when Democrats were 28 points more likely than Republicans to appreciate the media as a watchdog.
Pew also measured “interest” in national news and found an increase–33 percent a year ago said they closely followed national news, that’s now up to 40 percent.
But the increase is due almost entirely to Democrats. Their level of interest jumped from 33 percent to 49 percent.
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