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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

What America Thinks: Does the Media Make the News or Just Report It?

A so-called religious freedom law in Indiana has prompted the latest media firestorm. Although laws like this have been on the books for several years in nearly 20 other states, many worry it can lead to potential discrimination toward gays and lesbians, though Indiana Governor Mike Pence has now called for further clarification. Is this kind of coverage really called for or is this just media business as usual? We decided to find out what America thinks.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters believe gay rights groups and the media make religious freedom laws like the one in Indiana sound more discriminatory than they really are. Just half as many think they accurately portray the laws, even though 53% worry the laws will lead to widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.

This isn’t the first time Americans have felt the media made a mountain out of a mole hill, though. Nearly two-thirds of voters think the media overhypes incidents in which black people are shot by white police officers and actually believe the news media is making it more dangerous for police officers to do their job. Americans also worry the media covers major tragedies like mass shootings too much, and fear the intense coverage and profiling of the shooters themselves may actually inspire others to commit similar violent acts.

They also generally believe the media makes weather events and global warming sound worse than they really are. Voters still tend to think media bias is a bigger problem in politics today than big campaign contributions.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters think the news media has too much power and influence over government decisions. Nonetheless, 60% still consider the news reported by the media at least somewhat trustworthy.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.