“Far more Americans believe that the press coverage has favored Barack Obama than think it has favored Hillary Clinton,” a just-released survey, from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, discovered in determining 37 percent recognize a bias in favor of Obama. Even 35 percent of Democrats “see a pro-Obama bias” compared to 45 percent of Republicans and 40 percnt of independents.
The poll, of about 1,000 Americans taken in late May, found about the same percentage of Republicans and Democrats rely on MSNBC for campaign news, but:
Far more Republicans (24%) than Democrats (10%) get most of their campaign news from Fox [News Channel], while the opposite is true for CNN: 24% of Democrats look to CNN compared with just 13% of Republicans.
Reliance on the Internet for campaign news has jumped 12 points since 2004 while those primarily reading newspapers or watching TV news has fallen. Specifically, those who “say they get most of their news about the election from television” fell 10 points since 2004 as those relying on newspapers dropped 12 points, but “as many people now cite the Internet as cite newspapers as their main source of campaign news (29%); just 17% cited the Internet in September 2004.”
(On the bias question, Pew didn't ask about coverage of John McCain, but given the media's adulation for Obama, it's hard to imagine a future poll comparing coverage of the two party nominees won't confirm an even greater percent of the public see media advocacy for Obama, especially if McCain strongly pushes any conservative policies.)
Some brief excerpts from “Many Say Coverage is Biased in Favor of Obama; Primary Wrapup: Even As Obama Controversies Widely Registered,” posted June 5:
Nearly four-in-ten (37%) say that in covering the Democratic race, news organizations have been biased toward Obama while just 8% say they have been biased toward Clinton; 40% say news organizations have shown no bias in their coverage. Substantial minorities of Republicans (45%) and independents (40%) say the press has been biased toward Obama; somewhat fewer Democrats (35%) see a pro-Obama bias.
Among TV news outlets, the major cable networks are the dominant source for campaign news. Nearly half of the public rely on CNN (22%), the Fox News Channel (16%), or MSNBC (9%) for most of their campaign news. Fewer than three-in-ten (28%) rely on one of the three major broadcast networks and ever fewer (16%) rely on local TV news.
Roughly equal proportions of Republicans and Democrats say they rely on Network TV, local TV or MSNBC Cable News for campaign coverage. For Fox and CNN, however, there are significant partisan differences. Far more Republicans (24%) than Democrats (10%) get most of their campaign news from Fox, while the opposite is true for CNN: 24% of Democrats look to CNN compared with just 13% of Republicans.
Seven-in-ten Americans say they get most of their news about the election from television, which is about the same as in December (71%) but down 10 points since September 2004. About three-in-ten cite newspapers (29%), which is largely unchanged from December and a decline of 12 points since September 2004. As many people now cite the internet as cite newspapers as their main source of campaign news (29%); just 17% cited the internet in September 2004.
PDF with all the questions and survey details.
For dozens polls of journalists, check the MRC's “Media Bias Basics” section. For a bunch of previous surveys on how the public recognizes the liberal tilt of reporters, see the “How the Public Views the Media” subsection.