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Media Bias is Driving Away the Audience, Says RMU Poll

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Media Bias is Driving Away the Audience, Says RMU Poll

  • 35.6% Say They Stopped Watching/Reading News from a Media Organization Because of Bias
  • FOX News is Most Trusted for Accurate and Objective Reporting Followed by CNN, ABC News, Local Broadcasts and NBC News
  • Just 27.2% Believe All or Most News Media Reporting
  • Americans See Bias in Favor of Liberals and Against Conservatives
  • 61.6% Say News Media Played Role in Electing President Obama and are Intent on Promoting Obama Presidency (59.8%)


PITTSBURGH – FOX News is the most popular TV news source among Americans, who also say they prefer objective news reporting, according to the latest results from the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media.

Americans turn to Fox News (18.0%) most frequently for their television news.  Fox News is followed by CNN (11.9%), local news broadcasts (11.2%), ABC News (10.5%), NBC (9.8%) and CBS (8.1%). Others were named with less frequency.

Nearly one-half of all respondents, 45.5%, indicated they turn to their favored news source because they offered objective reporting while 16.8% suggested they tune into their favorite television news source because “They see the issues as I do”.

Fox News was named by 18.4% of all respondents as the one most trusted for accurate and objective reporting. Fox News was followed by CNN as the most trusted (14.1%) as well as ABC News (7.5%), local broadcasts (7.0%) and NBC News (6.9%). Others were named with less frequency.

Only one-quarter of all those surveyed, 27.2%, suggested they believe “all or most” of news media reporting – including both print and electronic.

More than three-quarters of Americans surveyed, 77.1% agreed that the news media have their own political and policy positions and attempt to influence public opinion. Just 12.1% disagreed.

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed, 72.2%, indicated they agreed that the news media has political positions and attempts to influence public policies and laws. Just 15.3% disagreed.

By nearly a four-to-one margin, Americans see the U.S. news media biased in favor of liberals and against conservatives at 45.7% compared to those (12.7%) seeing the news media biased in favor of conservatives and against liberals.  Few, 16.2%, noted the news media is not biased in their coverage.

“The connection between a perceived liberal bias and the corresponding support for FOX News is not surprising,” said Anthony Moretti, associate professor of communication at RMU. “That network has ingrained in us the idea that it is ‘fair and balanced’ even though this poll shows people see FOX News as also biased.”

Large percentages see bias in most news organization reporting. All respondents were asked to name all the news organizations they considered biased in their respective reporting. Nearly one-half of all those surveyed, 47.8%, saw bias at FOX News followed by MSNBC (37.1%), CNN (36.6%), NBC News (29.5%), ABC News (29.5%) and CBS News (28.4%). Others were named with less frequency of mention.

Respondents were asked which, of four options, was likely most responsible for bias in news media today. The largest group, 27.6%, suggested it was journalists and newscasters who enter their jobs with personal political beliefs. This was followed by:

  • The media drive for higher ratings (20%)
  • Advertisers and their respective business interests (14.8%)
  • The public gravitating to “like minded” media and drive the market for bias (14%)

Asked which one of six different types of news sources is most trusted for accurate news and information, respondents indicated:

  • Television news (34.6%)
  • Daily newspapers – print or online (22.8%)
  • Weekly news magazines – print or online (10.2%)
  • Social media (7.6%)
  • Blogs (7.4%)
  • Entertainers and celebrities (3.1%)

“The preference for television news has been around for almost a generation now,” said Moretti. “This poll suggests that preference is not going away despite our almost intimate connection to our smartphones, tablets and other personal devices.”

By nearly a three-to-one margin, 61.6% of Americans suggested the news media played a very strong (32.0%) or somewhat strong (29.6%) role in helping elect President Barack Obama in 2012. Less than one quarter, 22.2% suggested the role was either not very strong (17.0%) or had no role at all (5.2%).

Over one-third of all respondents, 35.6%, said they have stopped watching a news media organization – print or broadcast – because of perceived bias.

Majorities of Americans with an opinion agreed either strongly or somewhat…

  • The majority of news media is promoting Obama Care or the Affordable Care Act without objective criticism – 59.4% agreed while 40.6% disagreed.
  • The majority of news media seems intent on promoting the Obama Presidency – 59.8% agreed while 40.2% disagreed.

Two-fifths of Americans with an opinion agreed strongly or somewhat…

  • The majority of news media appears to favor Republican and conservative candidates and ideas – 39.7% agreed while 60.3% disagreed.

ABOUT THE POLL: The Poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media. Polling by the Institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events.

METHODOLOGY: The poll sampled opinions of 1,004 people, approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted May 6-13, 2014. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis. 

Through 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs across five academic schools, Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh, Pa., works to change its students' lives so that they can go out and change the lives of others for the better. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate, nontraditional and online students from 37 states and 37 nations are enrolled at RMU, which sits on 230 scenic acres just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. Emphasizing experiential learning, Robert Morris focuses on professional development, service learning, global awareness, undergraduate research, campus leadership, and cultural experiences, all of which are documented on our innovative Student Engagement Transcript. More than 100 clubs and organizations help students to develop leadership skills, network professionally, and meet friends. RMU also has 16 NCAA Division I athletic programs, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men's and women's lacrosse.ABOUT TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Trib Total Media is a multimedia network of daily and weekly newspapers, weekly shoppers, and websites delivering news, information and advertising to over 1.2 million readers across Western Pennsylvania every week. Trib Total Media also provides targeted direct mail, commercial printing and promotional item services.  Visit us online at and get it right. Now.