Pew Affirms Media Confirmation Bias, American News Consumers More Polarized Than Ever

As if there was any doubt that Americans are politically polarized about their sources of news about, well, politics, a new study from the Pew Research Center should make it abundantly clear. The study, which surveyed more than 12,000 U.S. adults last fall found Democrats trust three-quarters of the news sources prompted in the survey, while Republicans said they trust less than a quarter.

The full study, which can be accessed here, includes detailed findings about the relative trust/distrust Americans of both political persuasions had for 30 sources of news ranging from network television news to Rush Limbaugh to The New York Times to The Washington Examiner to HuffPost.

Pew researchers acknowledged it was difficult to pick a list of news sources representing the entire marketplace and said these 30 outlets "were selected to represent popular media brands across a range of platforms."

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However, you can see some top lines below and granular breakouts in the full report. The bottom line reinforces the notion in recent years that the political polarization of news outlets is reinforcing confirmation biases that are contributing to the current social and political discord in America.

The report also singles out one particular news outlet above all others as contributing to this polarization. In a section entitled "The Fox News Phenomenon," the researchers note: "In the more compact Republican media ecosystem, one outlet towers above all others: Fox News. It would be hard to overstate its connection as a trusted go-to source of political news for Republicans. About two-thirds (65%) of Republicans and Republican leaners say they trust Fox News as a source. Additionally, 60% say they got political or election news there in the past week."

The bottom line conclusion of the report is that Democrats appear to be open-minded and trusting of more news outlets falling across the spectrum than Republicans are.

"One of the clearest differences between Americans on opposing sides of the political aisle is that large portions of Democrats express trust in a far greater number of news sources," the report concludes.


4 comments about "Pew Affirms Media Confirmation Bias, American News Consumers More Polarized Than Ever".
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  1. Peter Rosenwald from Consult Partners, January 24, 2020 at 10:57 a.m.

    It's amazing! 

    Fox News is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the Trump presidency and it is amazing that so many people are comfortable with that.

    But perhaps it is not so amazing when one sees the whole of the GOP senate bench just waiting (although not very patiently) to acquit the president and crush another foundation stone of our failing democracy.

    Liberals should be made to watch Fox News for a while and conservatives should equally be forced to add any of the other channels to their viewing in an effort to gain some objectivity.  

  2. Kevin Killion from Stone House Systems, Inc., January 24, 2020 at 1:26 p.m.

    A thought experiment:  There's a neighborhood in, say, Fort Worth, where there are 8 terrific restaurants for steaks, chops, burgers.  An entrepreneur sees a market gap, and opens a sensational vegetarian restaurant that quickly gains huge popularity with local vegetarians.  Later on, a food research company comes to town and does a survey:  Their conclusion:  "We found one group of people that is obviously much more open-minded and patronizes a variety of restaurants, while another apparently close-minded group limits itself primarily to just one."

  3. Lorren Elkins from News and News, January 24, 2020 at 2:34 p.m.

    This is exactly why NewsandNews.com exists. In fact, we just published an essay on this topic in light of the current impeachment coverage. You can read it at nanl.ink/Hps and/or view the enhanced video at nanl.ink/1zH

    News and News is an independent, non-partisan news source that keeps its readers informed by aggregating news articles from hundreds of media outlets every day. Our professional (human) editors scan thousands of sources around the clock to ensure that we present a constant flow of new information from all points of view. Our goal is to save you time by scouring sources you likely would not do on your own, keep you informed on the key issues of the day, and help you learn new things across topics like science, technology, human interest, and entertainment.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited replied, January 24, 2020 at 4:31 p.m.

    Maybe it will take reduced social security and medicare along with over 20 million people thrown off insurance and all of us drinking chemical water and dying in the streets. What do you think it will take for people to wake up ?

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