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61% Welcome Public Scrutiny of Big League Reporters

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The New York Times and others are complaining that allies of President Trump are targeting hostile reporters by exposing controversial social media postings from their past. But most voters consider these reporters fair game for public criticism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters think reporters at major news organizations like CNN, Fox News and the New York Times are public figures who deserve the same level of scrutiny as the people they cover. Just 19% disagree, although just as many (20%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just over half (51%) say it is appropriate for elected officials to criticize specific reporters and news organizations. Thirty-nine percent (39%), however, view such criticism as a threat to freedom of the press. This compares to 48% and 45% respectively in February 2017 after Trump began criticizing specific news organizations that were targeting him. Ten percent (10%) remain undecided.

Rasmussen Reports bases its surveys on likely voters – those who have a history of voting in recent elections - as opposed to registered voters in general, many of whom historically don’t go to the polls.

A plurality (47%) of voters continues to believe that ideologically speaking the average reporter is more liberal than they are. Just 19% think that reporter is more conservative than they are, while 22% consider them ideologically about the same. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure. This is consistent with findings in surveys for the past several years.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 26-27, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Distrust of political news reporting remains at a record high, with just over half of voters now convinced that most in the media are out to get Trump. By contrast, 48% thought most reporters were trying to help President Obama pass his agenda in 2010 when Rasmussen Reports first asked this question.

Republicans (67%) and voters not affiliated with either major political party (52%) are much more likely than Democrats (25%) to consider the average reporter more liberal than they are.

But most Democrats (56%) agree with 69% of GOP voters and 59% of unaffiliateds that reporters at major news organizations are public figures who deserve the same level of scrutiny as the people they cover. When it comes to specific reporters and news organizations, however, only 28% of Democrats think it is appropriate for elected officials to criticism them, compared to 71% of Republicans and 57% of unaffiliated voters.

Voters who think the average reporter is more liberal than they are are far more likely to welcome criticism of specific reporters and news organizations.

Most voters in general continue to believe the media is all about controversy and too quick to convict public figures.

Americans believe politicians and the media are most to blame for the country’s current “toxic” culture.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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