The media have been a large focus of attention during the past few years. Yet, day after day, they do their job. And, over four in five Americans (85%) say the media are important to American Democracy with over half (52%) saying they are very important. And, while there are some partisan differences, three-quarters of Republicans (76%), almost all Democrats (95%) and nine in ten Independents (89%) say the media are important. This is from an online survey we conducted b among 1,037 U.S. adults, 18 and older between January 13 and 15, 2020.
There is also generational alignment on this. Over four in five Gen Zers (84%), Gen Xers (82%), Baby Boomers (82%) and Greatest Generationers (81%) as well as over nine in ten Millennials (93%) also say the media are important to American Democracy with seven in ten Millennials (69%) saying it is very important.
But, this is where getting along ends. While two-thirds of Americans (68%) say it is dangerous when President Trump call the media “the enemy of the people,” this drops to less than half of Republicans (46%) and rises to almost nine in ten Democrats (88%). Almost two-thirds (64%) believe the media are biased against the White House. This then rises to nine in ten Republicans (90%) and drops to over two in five Democrats (42%); Independents are in the middle with over three in five (62%) saying the media are biased against the White House.
Looking at the three main cable news stations, one-quarter of Americans each say that Fox News (26%) and CNN (24%) do the best job delivering straight news with no bias while one in ten (11%) say this about MSNBC. One-quarter (26%), however, say none of them do and they are all biased while over one in ten (14%) are not at all sure. Among Republicans, over two in five (44%) say Fox News does the best job delivering straight news, almost one in five (17%) say CNN does and one-quarter (24%) say they are all biased. As you might expect, it’s a little different for Democrats as over one-third (36%) say CNN does the best job, less than one in five say MSNBC (18%) and Fox News (16%) do the best job and one in five (19%) they are all biased.