Columns

Americans Tell the Media 'You Just Don't Know Me at All'

Townhall/Julio Rosas

Pew Research released a poll that shows 59% of Americans think news organizations do not understand people like them. You might think this a result of the current hyperpolarized environment. However, it is only up a point from the last survey on the same question in 2018.

This survey was taken before the recent protests, riots, and monument destruction. So recent media moves to restrict opinions might change this view even further. For example, the New York Times fired an editor for the sin of running an editorial written by Republican Senator Tom Cotton.

The problem with that decision is polling data shows a majority of Americans agreed with Senator Cotton’s position on using the National Guard and the military to restore law and order. The New York Times’ decision completely missed the preference of many Americans for law and order.

There were four choices for respondents on what they think the media misunderstands about them:

  • Political views
  • Social and Economic class
  • Personal Interests
  • Personal characteristics

Among all U.S. adults, 34% say their political views are not understood. As you might expect, this is driven by Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents. A full 46% of them responded their views are not understood.

This complaint is consistent with the pattern we see in society generally. Given newsrooms tend to lean left, and in some cases far left, it is not surprising Republicans feel misunderstood. Jonathon Haidt did a survey and found that while conservatives understand liberals’ thinking, the reverse is not true. It stands to reason that many in the media will not accurately represent a Republican or conservative point of view.

Almost 39% of men and 39% of white participants responded similarly. Likewise, those over the age of 50 also feel their views are misrepresented at a rate of at least 39%. Perhaps this is best represented by the Don Lemon ‘Boomer Rube’ segment on CNN. More than misunderstood, there is often outright disdain for the white working-class Americans who do not live in urban areas.

Social and economic class is where Democrats feel most misunderstood. Thirty-four percent report this is the characteristic they think the media doesn’t understand. This view is shared by 34% of women and 35% of Americans making less than $30,000 a year.

Black respondents feel most misunderstood related to their personal characteristics, and Hispanic responses were split between social and economic class and personal interests. Those between the ages of 18 and 29 feel fairly evenly misunderstood across all four dimensions.

With nearly 60% of Americans saying the media is getting it wrong for the past two years, you might think that media companies would take stock of their approach to covering the news. It does not seem that any major news outlet is doing that.

Discussions have been leaked from the New York Times and CNN that show that editorial decisions they make favor one political party over another. Leaked video from ABC showed reporter Amy Robach expressing frustration about management killing her story on accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

It is becoming undeniable that corporate outlets find their current model profitable enough. The idea that they will look internally and reform themselves is not likely. Their lack of introspection has provided some upstarts and veterans, who hold to journalistic principles, the opportunity to start independent ventures.

It is likely that as the corporate media continues down its path of advocacy disguised as news, there will be opportunities for on-the-ground reporting to blossom. On a national level, reporters like Salena Zito, who travel the backroads to find stories and develop opinions, will only grow in popularity.

Recent protests have also vaulted new voices. Julio Rosas from Townhall is doing great video journalism along with others, such as Andy Ngo and Jorge Ventura. In the age of digital media, it is very easy to find alternative sources and to watch original events rather than have your perception managed by interstitials and sound bites.

It is also great to see the long-form interview make a comeback. Pioneered by Larry King on cable news, these have moved to podcasts and YouTube. Joe Rogan and Dave Rubin’s in-depth interviews are wildly popular, and more are springing up.

Even if the corporate media is comfortable, the game is changing. If these corporations don’t look at their models, make adjustments, and engage with their viewers and readers, soon they will be talking to no one.