PR pulse: The partisan divide on the issue of media importance

by | Jan 23, 2020 | Public Relations

The media have been a large focus of attention during the past few years. Yet, day after day, they do their job. And according to a new survey from research and insights firm Regina Corso Consulting, over four in five Americans (85 percent) say the media are important to American Democracy, with over half (52 percent) saying they are very important.

And, while there are some partisan differences, three-quarters of Republicans (76 percent), almost all Democrats (95 percent) and nine in ten Independents (89 percent) say the media are important.

There is also generational alignment on this

Over four in five Gen Zers (84 percent), Gen Xers (82 percent), Baby Boomers (82 percent) and Greatest Generationers (81 percent) as well as over nine in ten Millennials (93 percent) also say the media are important to American Democracy with seven in ten Millennials (69 percent) saying it is very important.

But this is where getting along ends

While two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) say it is dangerous when President Trump calls the media “the enemy of the people,” this drops to less than half of Republicans (46 percent) and rises to almost nine in ten Democrats (88 percent). Almost two-thirds (64 percent) believe the media are biased against the White House. This then rises to nine in ten Republicans (90 percent) and drops to over two in five Democrats (42 percent); Independents are in the middle with over three in five (62 percent) saying the media are biased against the White House.

The role of cable news

Looking at the three main cable news stations, one-quarter of Americans each say that Fox News (26 percent) and CNN (24 percent) do the best job delivering straight news with no bias while one in ten (11 percent) say this about MSNBC. One-quarter (26 percent), however, say none of them do and they are all biased while over one in ten (14%) are not at all sure.

Among Republicans, over two in five (44 percent) say Fox News does the best job delivering straight news, almost one in five (17 percent) say CNN does and one-quarter (24 percent) say they are all biased. As you might expect, it’s a little different for Democrats as over one-third (36 percent) say CNN does the best job, less than one in five say MSNBC (18 percent) and Fox News (16 percent) do the best job and one in five (19 percent) say they are all biased.

The White House needs to bring back press briefings

As the Impeachment trial gets underway, the Senate is mulling rules to limit the movements of the press. It’s also been over 10 months since the White House Press Secretary held a briefing from the White House press room.

What’s interesting is the American public are not that aware: one-quarter (24 percent) believe it has been about a week since the last briefing and very few say it’s been 6-9 months (6 percent) or 10-11 months (5 percent).

It is also not like Republicans or Democrats are paying attention to when it was. One-third of both Republicans (32 percent) and Democrats (33 percent) as well as two in five Independents (40 percent) say they are not at all sure how long it has been since the last press briefing.

Regardless of when they thought the last briefing was, four in five Americans (80 percent) say it is important that the White House bring back regular press briefings. And this is not partisan – three-quarters of Republicans (74 percent), four in five Independents (79 percent) and nine in ten Democrats (89 percent) all say it is important that the White House bring back regular press briefings.

The flip shows the same story, as just two in five Americans (40 percent) say White House briefings are no longer necessary. Here there is a little of a partisan divide as over half of Republicans (53 percent) say they are not necessary any longer compared to less than two in five Independents (38 percent) and three in ten Democrats (31 percent). There is also a gender divide as half of men (50 percent) say the briefings are not necessary any longer compared to three in ten women (31 percent).

This data is from an online survey among 1,037 U.S. adults, 18 and older between January 13 and 15, 2020.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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