Nearly three quarters of Americans believe the news media reports with an intentional bias, according to a new survey. The 2015 State of the First Amendment Survey, conducted by the First Amendment Center and USA Today, was released Friday. It shows that only 24 percent of American adults agree with the statement that “overall, the news media tries to report the news without bias,” while 70 percent disagree. When the question was asked last year, 41 percent agreed, a 17-point difference.
“These are discouraging results for those of us who have spent our careers in journalism,” Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today on Thursday. “In 23 years in newsrooms, I saw consistent and concerted efforts to get stories right. Clearly, the public’s not convinced.”
Why ever could that be? Just because they all know each other, live near each other, vacation together, have country houses in the same two spots together, marry each other, have affairs with each other, go in and out of politics together and then raise their kids to enter exactly the same profession doesn’t mean the media is biased, does it?
The survey suggests that controversies this year that engulfed national news anchors Brian Williams of NBC and George Stephanopoulos of ABC may have had a deep impact on public trust in media. It also floats the idea that the public has had a negative reaction to news coverage of the racially-charged events in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md.
Please note that Brian Williams and George Stephanopoulos continue to be employed as “newsmen” by their respective employers.