Pew: Public Perception of Media Bias Hits Historic High

Fox News and CNN are the most cited news sources.

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In a new study that calls into question the credibility of the news business, public belief that the media is inaccurate, biased, and influenced by powerful people has reached historic highs, according to the Pew Research Center.

In Pew's biennial news survey, out today, the public revealed an alarming opinion that the media just can't be trusted to tell a story straight.

Said Pew, "The overall ratings for the performance of the news media are quite negative: Fully 66% say news stories often are inaccurate, 77 % think that news organizations tend to favor one side, and 80% say news organizations are often influenced by powerful people and organizations. The percentage saying that news stories are often inaccurate has risen 13 points since 2007, with much of the increase coming among Democrats and independents."

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The public has also changed its view of the media, with cable TV taking the top slot over network TV and print. "When asked what first comes to mind when they think of 'news organizations,' 63% volunteer the name of a cable news outlet, with CNN and Fox News by far the most prevalent in people's minds. Only about a third (36%) name one of the broadcast networks. Fewer mention local news outlets or a national newspaper."

At the top of the TV heap, said Pew, is Fox and CNN. "The top sources of TV news are the Fox News Channel, cited by 19% of the public, CNN (15%), and local news programming (16%)," said Pew.

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Also, while many get their news from the Internet, the study won't buoy big name news websites. "Just 3 percent name a website—either web-only or linked to a traditional news organization—when asked what comes to mind when they think of news organizations," said Pew.

The good news? At least the media is more believable than politicians, even the president. "Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say they have a lot or some trust in information they get from local news organizations, while 59% say they trust information from national news organizations," said Pew. By comparison, "about half say they have a lot or some trust in information provided by their state government (51%) and the Obama administration (50%). Smaller percentages trust information from federal agencies (44%), business corporations (41%), Congress (37%) or candidates running for office (29%)."