Commentary

Election News Reveals Partisan Differences About Coverage, Skepticism Of Social Media

Most Americans said news sources explained election results well, though there were partisan differences in how those people perceived the media, a Pew Research Center survey found. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to express satisfaction with the news media, likely because their candidate won.

Some 90% Democrats and people who lean left said their news sources helped them understand election results after polls closed, while only 6% expressed dissatisfaction and another 6% tuned out entirely. By comparison, only 67% of Republicans and right-leaning adults gave the news media favorable marks for explaining the election.

Dissatisfaction among Republicans may have been the result of Fox News's decision to call Arizona in favor of Democrat Joe Biden before other news sources had, angering conservatives. More than one-quarter (28%) of Republicans who say Fox News is a major source for political news also said the news media did a poor job of explaining the election, compared with 21% of Republicans who don't rely on Fox News, the survey found.

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Americans tend to favor traditional media outlets for news about election results, with 30% saying they watched cable TV news and 22% watched national network TV news. Among digital media consumers, 24% relied on a news website or app and only 9% looked at a social network feed.

That low reliance on social media indicates that people don't trust apps like Facebook and Twitter for election coverage. That's also a sign of healthy skepticism toward platforms with a shoddy record of stopping the spread of misinformation, hate speech, conspiracy theories and divisive propaganda posing as news.

It's amazing that brands buy ad inserts on platforms that have such a trust deficit with audiences, but favorable ROIs are persuasive.

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