A Pew Research Center poll of 1,501 adults conducted in July 2011 found that “negative opinions about the performance of news organizations now equal or surpass all-time highs on nine of 12 core measures.” The report documented how the public’s opinion of the media has significantly deteriorated since the group began polling in 1985, with record numbers seeing the press as inaccurate, biased — and even immoral.
A record high 63% said the media were “politically biased in their reporting,” vs. just 25% who felt reporters were “careful that their reporting was not politically biased.” In 1985, Pew found 45% saw political bias, vs. 36% who thought the media were careful to avoid bias.
“Three-quarters of Republicans (76%) say news organizations are politically biased,” as compared to 63% of independents and 54% of Democrats.
Pew: “The public is about evenly divided over whether news organizations are immoral (42%) or moral (38%), but the proportion saying the press is immoral also equals an all-time high.”
Respect for the media has eroded since Pew began polling in 1985. At that time, 55% of Americans said that news organizations “get the facts straight” — that figure has now dropped to just 25%, while the percentage saying the media are “often inaccurate” has risen from 34% to 66%.
In 1985, roughly half (53%) said the media “tend to favor one side,” a figure which has now grown to 77%. Similarly, the percentage saying the media are “often influenced by powerful people and organizations” has risen from 53% to 80% in the past 26 years.
“For the first time in a Pew Research Center survey, as many say that news organizations hurt democracy (42%) as protect democracy (42%). In the mid-1980s, about twice as many said that news organizations protect democracy rather than hurt democracy.”
“The news media also is faulted for invading people’s privacy and focusing too much on bad news, but these opinions have not become more negative over the past quarter century,” Pew reported.