Eighty-six percent of Americans said that the media, instead of reporting the facts with neutrality, is engaged in influencing readers politically, which has led to high rates of mistrust, according to a survey by the Knight Foundation and Gallup Inc., released on Aug. 4. 

Republicans are the most skeptical of information provided by news organizations, with a percentage of 71%, followed by independents with 53% and Democrats in third place with 22%.

“Most Americans have lost confidence in the media to deliver the news objectively,” observed Sam Gill senior vice president at the Knight Foundation, and program director. He added, “This is corrosive for our democracy.”

Gill agrees with the majority of respondents, more than 80 percent, who believe that a healthy democracy requires independence from the media in its reporting.

At the same time, disinformation causes a significant harmful impact when someone tries to be truthfully informed, so for most of the interviewees, it is also desirable to purge the data, eliminating those that do not conform to reality or try to distort it.

Biased reporting spawns misinformation

Another adverse effect of the mistrust generated by the biased media is that readers may adopt false versions of the facts. 

Thus, a low level of trust would “leave open the possibility that dangerous false narratives will take root in all segments of society,” Gallup warned.

While the need to be informed is common, most “think there is at least a fair amount of political bias in news coverage,” according to the Knight Foundation.

Still, a very high percentage of Americans believe that while the media has generated distrust and political division, it would also be in a position to rectify that situation.

“84% of Americans say the media is to blame for the political division in this country. Yet 84% also say the media can serve as a healing force,” according to the Gallup report on this survey.

The results indicate that 51% of Americans find news using the internet, 35% on television, 9% on radio, and 5% in magazines or newspapers.

The data for this survey was obtained from 20,046 respondents with randomly selected American adults between November 2019 and February 2020.

Emphasizing the role that news plays in society, the Gallup report states that those who are most aware are most active in their medium.

“Those who follow local news ‘closely’ are more than twice as likely as those who don’t follow it to participate in local elections—81% versus 35%, respectively,” said Gallup.