POLL: Republicans Far More Likely Than Democrats to Distrust 'Fact Checkers'

June 29th, 2019 2:45 PM

The Pew Research Center reported Thursday on its latest poll, which found Republicans don't trust the "independent fact checking" groups. They described it this way: "As fact-checking organizations are increasingly being tapped to fight against misinformation, Republicans appear to have serious concerns about the fairness of these groups. Democrats, on the other hand, mostly think they are fair to all sides." [Hat tip: Dan Gainor]

Seventy percent of Republicans said fact-checkers tend to favor one side, compared with 29 percent of Democrats. The same holds the other way: 69 percent of Democrats said the fact checkers deal fairly with all sides, and only 28 percent of Republicans agreed with that. Independents were almost evenly split: 51 percent said the fact-checkers were fair, and 47 percent said they were biased.

For now, fact-checkers still have a better reputation for fairness than the news media. "Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say news organizations tend to favor one side when covering political and social issues – notably higher than the half who say the same about fact-checkers." Fully 89 percent of Republicans said the media were biased, alongside 72 percent of independents. Even 57 percent of Democrats agreed, although a significant chunk of those surely think the media are tragically conservative. 

You can see this tilt from the week's Democrat debates. Let's review one more time just how tilted this can get. Here's what we found about PolitiFact overall in 2017 and 2018: 

-- President Trump was fact-checked on their "Truth-o-Meter" 297 times in the last two calendar years, and 205 of those statements were ranked Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. That's 69 percent of the time.

-- Nancy Pelosi, then the House Minority Leader, House leader Nancy Pelosi was checked 12 times. Six of them were on the False side (50 percent), zero Pants on Fire. Five were True or Mostly True, and one was Half True. 

-- Charles Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, was checked 9 times. Four of those were on the False side (44 percent), three on the True side, and two Half Trues.

-- President Trump was rated a "Pants On Fire" liar 33 times, more than these two Democrat leaders were rated at all (21 times).

-- In the partisan breakdown of "Pants on Fire" ratings in 2017-18, Republicans/conservatives were tagged 98 times overall and Democrats/liberals merely 15 times. That's a margin of more than six to one.