Report: Most Americans don’t cite NPR, PBS as objective

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Most Americans can’t name an objective news source, and the 44 percent who do are less likely to cite NPR than Fox or CNN.

That’s according to “American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy,” a Gallup/Knight Foundation report released Tuesday. The findings are drawn from a mail survey sent to more than 19,000 U.S. adults.

The survey found a strong correlation between political values and media distrust. Eighty-one percent of Republicans said there was “too much bias in the reporting of news stories that are supposed to be objective,” while 78 percent said there was “too much bias in the selection of what stories news organizations cover or don’t cover.” Meanwhile, about 50 percent of Democrats agreed with both points, and about 68 percent of Independents.

Among the survey respondents who named an objective source of news, 60 percent who identify as Republicans chose Fox News. Across all but one age group of these respondents, Fox News was cited most often as an objective news source. For those aged 49 and younger, CNN and NPR were considered objective among the same or slightly lower percentages than Fox.

Among all respondents who cited a source of objective news, 24 percent named Fox. CNN follows with 13 percent and then NPR at 10 percent. Fox News and NPR each had 16 percent among 30 to 49 year olds. Among Independents, Fox was cited as objective by 16 percent of respondents, followed by NPR at 12 percent. Sixty percent of Republicans identified Fox as objective.

“Among Democrats, CNN (21%) and NPR (15%) led, but by much smaller percentages than Fox News had among Republicans,” the report said.

CNN and NPR are tied at 26 percent as the most cited objective news outlet among liberals, the report said. Those who identify as “very liberal” count NPR as their top choice.

PBS was considered an objective news source among 3 percent of these respondents, the same portion as NBC/NBC News, The New York Times and ABC/ABC News. PBS ranked below local news (nonspecific), the BBC and MSNBC.

Fox News and CNN also edged out NPR among majorities of white and Hispanic respondents. Among blacks, Fox News and NPR tied at 6 percent. At 19 percent, NPR is the most mentioned objective news source among postgraduates, although Fox News leads among other educational groups, the report said.

Among all survey respondents, television news and newspapers were the most trusted news sources. About two-thirds of U.S. adults said they relied on TV “a great dea” or “a fair amount.”

“Americans have the greatest trust in national network news and local and national newspapers to provide mostly 
accurate and politically balanced news,” the report said. “They trust cable news more than they trust internet news sources.”

Forty-three percent said they have a “very unfavorable” or “somewhat unfavorable” opinion of the news media, while 23 percent are neutral. Democrats are the most likely to have a favorable opinion of news media at 54 percent, unlike Republicans who are 15 percent favorable of the news media. Forty-eight percent of Independents said they viewed it unfavorably.

The report does not draw specific recommendations from the research. The Washington Post will livestream a series of panels about the survey’s implications Jan. 23.

9 thoughts on “Report: Most Americans don’t cite NPR, PBS as objective

  1. You need not look any further than the morning show weekdays on NPR and Scott Simon on Saturdays to see how unabashedly biased the reporting is along with interviews with guests. I wrote to Steve Inskeep
    and told him that without Trump, over 60 per cent of his morning news show would be dead air. And,
    naturally, everything said about President Trump is negative and has been since the time he was running
    for President.

  2. I’m a faithful NewsHour viewer and NPR listener, especially ‘GBH. My preference for public media is very interesting. I love public television and radio. Here in northern Chile we got a preference for public media from the U.S. I got the NPR news app and I’m watchin’ the PBS NewsHour on USTREAM or YouTube. This programmes are really balanced, unbiased and uncut. Congrats to Judy Woodruff for this job on the NewsHour.

  3. I take polls with a grain of salt. When I’m called on a variety of polls, they funnel my answer to statements that DON’T actually reflect accurately what I want to say. They offer me no recourse to say accurately what I want to communicate. SO, how is that for misguided results? I get what they are trying to do, but they fail to be useful when such manipulation of information is then reported as stats. It’s not accurate is my point, and that is the point that matters.

  4. What happened to the importance of the word PUBLIC.? The PBS News Hour anchored by Judy Woodruff continues to report information from only one side. We are shocked that PBS is allowing Judy Woodruff to offer only her opinion, her agenda, especially her strong negative views of the President of the United States. Consider that my husband and I are donors for PBS, and we are Americans. It is not fair that PBS allows Judy Woodruff to speak for all Americans. We would like once again non-biased information.

    • I hear you, Beverly. The thing is, Judy Woodruff doesn’t even or realize or know how far she has strayed from her “north star,” Jim Lehrer, who advocated fair and balanced reporting – two sides to a story and other dictums that are regularly being violated by the current PBS Newshour. The whole lot’s been infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome.

  5. Sharon Quinn gave a very good response to the problem with polls in this country. It’s a problem they probably haven’t corrected in the 2+ years after her analysis. So people see poll numbers and are all jacked up to celebrate a Hillary win and because they bought those poll numbers hook line and sinker. Then people wonder why they all go berserk when Trump wins. A guy everyone said didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of being elected. And here we are 2020 a month and half away and they’re doing it all over again. Nice going liberal networks. And they wonder why no one trusts them and their ratings stink. The problem s in this country didn’t start with Trump. They’ve been here a long time. He’s just been shining a light on the rats and they’re scurrying for cover.

    • At last! My husband and I have been saying the same thing, esp. the PBS news hour with Judy Woodruff. How much more partial, how one-sided, how more opinionated can a journalist get than Judy Woodruff?

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