Poll: Republicans Trust the Military on Iraq; Democrats Prefer the Media's Bad News

A new report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds the public has relatively little confidence in what the military and the media are telling them about the war in Iraq, although the press has less credibility than the Pentagon.

Interestingly, a majority of self-described Democrats say they are putting their confidence in the media, while Republicans have generally opted to trust the military. In 2005, a major study by the Media Research Center found the vast majority of network news reports highlighted the bad news coming out of Iraq, with few reports detailing the accomplishments or personal bravery of U.S. troops.

Here’s an excerpt of the report written by the Pew Research Center’s Associate Director Michael Dimock and released yesterday:

Four years into the Iraq war, most Americans say they have little or no confidence in the information they receive — from either the military or the media — about how things are going on the ground. Fewer than half (46%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence that the U.S. military is giving the public an accurate picture of the situation, and even fewer (38%) are confident in the press's portrayal of the war....

While Democrats, Republicans and independents all express less confidence in the information they are receiving about Iraq today, there is now a substantial partisan divide in how these two institutions are viewed. The vast majority of Republicans (73%) remain at least somewhat confident in the military's portrayal of how the war is going, compared with just 32% of Democrats. At the outset of the war, the partisan gap was far less pronounced.

Conversely, Republican confidence in the accuracy of media reports on the war has declined more sharply. In March 2003, eight-in-ten Americans generally trusted press reports and opinions did not differ across party lines. Today, fewer than a third of Republicans (29%) feel confident in what they are hearing from the press, while about half of Democrats (51%) remain confident in the news from Iraq.

Independents have become skeptical of the information they are getting from both institutions. The share of independents who express at least a fair amount of confidence in military portrayals of the war is down from 83% to 39% since the start of the war, and their confidence in the accuracy of press reports has declined from 81% to 34%.

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