CBS Skips How Public Sees Media as “Harder” on Bush, Democrats “Trust” Media More

Introducing a Friday CBS Evening News story on the state of the media, part of a week-long “The State of...” series prompted by the annual State of the Union address, anchor Bob Schieffer pointed to how a CBS News/New York Times poll found that “most Americans have at least some confidence in the media, and more than two out of three [69 percent] believe the stories the media report are accurate.” As Schieffer spoke, viewers saw a graphic titled “Confidence in the media?” with “at least some” listed at 63 percent. Left unnoted: Only 15 percent said they had a “great deal” of confidence compared to 48 percent who expressed only a “fair amount” of confidence. Schieffer and CBS skipped, however, how the survey determined that twice as many believe that “compared to other Presidents, the news media have been harder on President Bush,” at 35 percent, than the 18 percent who see the media going “easier on President Bush.” The plurality, 45 percent, responded that the media are “treating President Bush the same.”

The poll conducted in late January didn't ask about ideological bias in the media, but a PDF posting of the results relayed how those on the left have more faith in the media than do those on the right: “Large majorities of Democrats and liberals (about seven in 10 of each) think the news media tells the truth all or most of the time. About half of Republicans and conservatives agree.” Specifically, asked “how much trust and confidence do you have in the news media?”, 75 percent of Democrats answered “a great deal” or a “fair amount,” compared to 52 percent for Republican respondents. And 48 percent of Republicans, but just 25 percent of Democrats, have "not very much" or "no" confidence in the news media. (Brief transcript, and another poll finding, follow.)

The survey also discovered that a majority of 59 percent think the news media are truthful "always" or "most of the time," but the identical percent said the Bush administration is truthful "sometimes" or "hardly ever."

Schieffer introduced the February 3 CBS Evening News story:

"The news media have their share of critics, but, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, most Americans have at least some confidence in the media, and more than two out of three believe the stories the media report are accurate, which brings us to the final report in our 'State of the Union' week series. Anthony Mason reports tonight on the 'State of the Media.'"

Mason's story (online version), which began with left-wing crank Helen Thomas complaining about how “everybody with a laptop thinks they're a journalist these days. That's a problem," provided no further information about CBS's poll.

Check the MRC's “Media Bias Basics” page for the “How the Public Views the Media” rundown, updated by the MRC's Rich Noyes, with the findings of several polls showing how the public recognizes the news media's liberal tilt.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center