Gallup Poll: Media Seen as 'Too Liberal,' Untrustworthy

A Gallup poll released late last week confirms that few Americans trust the media and about three times as many see the press as liberally biased as opposed to pro-conservative. Far more Democrats express confidence in the media than Republicans, but even a slight plurality of Democrats describe the press as liberally biased (21%) rather than having a conservative bias (20%).

For the media, Gallup's news is not good: Only ten percent of Americans say they have a "great deal" of trust in the media, while "about 2 in 10 Americans (18%) have no confidence in the media at all - which is also among the worst grades Gallup has recorded." Three out of four Republicans (74%) and nearly half of independents (45%) join one-fifth of Democrats (21%) in seeing the press as "too liberal."

Among the key findings, as written up by Gallup's Lymari Morales in an October 1 report:

- "Americans' views about bias in the news are also fairly steady over the past few years. Currently, 45% say the media are too liberal, while 15% say too conservative and 35% say they are just about right. None of these percentages have budged more than three or four points since 2005."

- "Currently, 58% of Democrats say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in media reporting and accuracy, compared to 39% of independents and 36% of Republicans."

- "Republicans are slightly more likely than they were last year to say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust, though 27% say they have no trust at all, compared with 21% of independents and 6% of Democrats."

- "Who does trust the media? In addition to Democrats, nonwhites and those with a high school education or less place the most trust in the media, followed by liberals, women, and Americans 18 to 29. In all other demographic groups, less than a majority say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media."

- Gallup's bottom line: "Taken together, the findings underscore the challenge facing the media as they struggle with economic difficulties and increasing competition from emerging platforms."

From 2001 through 2009, Gallup has asked the same question: "Now thinking for a moment about the news media: In general, do you think the news media is too liberal, just about right, or too conservative." Each year, the number of Americans saying the media are too liberal has outnumbered those seeing a pro-conservative bias by about a three-to-one margin. The chart shows that the percentage seeing liberal bias always far exceeds those perceiving a conservative bias:

A week before the Gallup survey was released, a poll from Sacred Heart University found that five out of six Americans (83.6%) regard the national news media as "very or somewhat biased," and nearly nine out of ten (89.3%) say the media were a strong factor in electing Barack Obama as President last year." Details.

Earlier in September, the Pew Research Center released poll results showing that "the public's assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys," with nearly three-quarters (74%) saying "news organizations tend to favor one side in dealing with political and social issues." Details.

For many more related polls, check the "How the Public Views the Media" section of the MRC's Media Bias Basics.

-Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center.