Trump Has Unleashed “Unprecedented” Levels Of Polarization In How People View The Media, Says This New Survey

The presidency of Donald Trump has prompted Democrats to expertise a surge in confidence within the press on the identical time that Republicans and Trump supporters are expressing extra excessive, detrimental views of the media, in line with new analysis launched as we speak.

But whereas views of the media have gotten much more divided alongside occasion strains, the researchers additionally discovered proof that on-line media consumption habits of Democrats and Republicans could also be much less polarized than generally believed.

“Trump has sparked unprecedented levels of polarization in views toward the media. In the period for which we have data, Democrats and Republicans have never had such disparate levels of trust and confidence in the media,” Brendan Nyhan, a professor of political science at Dartmouth College and coauthor of the examine, informed BuzzFeed News.

The analysis is predicated on a consultant survey of two,100 American adults performed by YouGov in November, in addition to an evaluation of anonymized desktop web-browsing knowledge collected from contributors throughout a one-week interval. Nyhan and his coauthors, Andrew Guess from Princeton and Jason Reifler from the University of Exeter, are presenting their paper as we speak at a journalism ethics summit in Washington, D.C. known as “The Press and the President: Trust and the Media in a New Era.” The occasion is organized by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a non-partisan, non-profit journalism suppose tank and instructing institute. The analysis, which varieties the idea for the primary Poynter Media Trust Survey, was funded by Poynter and a grant from the Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

Nyhan mentioned that Trump’s detrimental strategy to the press may very well be inflicting “the strongest relationship between presidential approval and media attitudes that has been observed to date.”

The survey discovered that 74% of respondents who establish as Democrats, or who lean Democratic, have “a great deal” (19%) or “a fair amount” (55%) of confidence within the media. A ballot taken in September 2016 requested the identical query and located that 51% of Democrats expressed the identical degree of assist, which means that their confidence has elevated 23 proportion factors in only one 12 months.

Seventy-four p.c confidence within the press is the best degree registered for Democrats since 1997, the earliest date for which related knowledge is accessible.

Meanwhile, simply 19% of respondents who recognized as Republicans, or who lean Republican, expressed “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence within the media.

“Democrats still do not love the press — only 19 percent express ‘a great deal’ of trust and confidence — but they are far more positive than in the past,” Nyhan mentioned. “We interpret this increase as reflecting a recognition of the role of the media in holding an opposition president accountable, especially when his party controls both chambers of Congress.”

The surge in belief and confidence within the media amongst Democrats helped drive the general outcomes to “a level of support not seen since after the 2001 terrorist attacks,” the authors write.

But that end result masks a deeply polarized voters whose occasion affiliation and degree of assist, or disapproval, of Trump more and more dictates their view of the media. The researchers discovered that Republicans and Trump supporters are as we speak “far more likely to endorse extreme claims about media fabrication, to describe journalists as an enemy of the people, and to support restrictions on press freedom.”

More than 60% of respondents who recognized as approving of Trump agreed with the president’s assertion that the media is an “enemy of the American people.” Among Trump disapprovers, roughly 15% agreed with the assertion. When requested in the event that they agree with the assertion that the media “keep political leaders from doing their job,” the odds have been roughly the identical.

Nyhan mentioned responses to those survey questions don’t point out whether or not particular person respondents would, for instance, wish to see reporters jailed. “It’s important not to get too hyper-literal about what they mean, but it’s certainly concerning that they are even willing to say [the press is the enemy of the people] and indicate it in a survey,” he mentioned.

Overall extra Americans endorsed these “extreme” positions than the researchers had anticipated.

“Most disturbingly, one in four Americans (25%) endorses draconian limitations on press freedom” that might give authorities officers the proper to cease a media outlet from publishing a narrative, the researchers discovered.

The survey additionally revealed one other manner Republicans and Democrats differ with regards to opinions of the media: Republicans with excessive degree of data about politics have much less confidence within the press than Republicans with low ranges of data. For Democrats it’s the reverse — these with excessive data usually tend to trust within the press, whereas these with low data even have low confidence.

The researchers consider that is possible a results of vastly totally different messages in regards to the media coming from Democratic and Republican elites.

“If you’re a politically aware Democrat, you’ve been exposed to a lot of ideas about the critical importance of the media and other mainstream institutions, especially in the past year,” Andrew Guess of Princeton informed BuzzFeed News. “For politically aware Republicans, the message has often been quite different.”

Nyhan mentioned “one of the principles of public opinion is that the most knowledgeable people are most likely to hear and follow queues from like-minded partisan elites.”

The degree of political data of respondents was decided primarily based on their responses to a sequence of factual assertions reminiscent of, “Rex Tillerson is the current US Secretary of State.”

Polarized News Consumption

In addition to asking questions, the researchers analyzed anonymized web-browsing knowledge from survey contributors. This enabled them to match what folks mentioned about their on-line information consumption with knowledge in regards to the websites they really visited utilizing desktop computer systems.

One key discovering is that respondents had an inclination to overreport their use of partisan information sources. “Democrats seem to overreport visiting the Huffington Post and Republicans tend to underreport doing so. The converse is true for Fox News — Republicans tend to overreport visiting the Fox News website while Democrats seem to underreport,” the researchers write.

Nyhan mentioned this reveals that “people’s perceptions of what they’re reading and what they’re actually reading are different.”

Guess mentioned it’s potential that individuals overreport their consumption of partisan media to mirror their political identification.

“Democrats are more likely to say they visit the Huffington Post than they actually do, for instance, because being a Huffington Post reader is possibly seen as part of being a good Democrat,” he mentioned. “Put together, patterns like these suggest that the conventional wisdom is skewed toward thinking that people’s media diets are more polarized than they actually are.”

Nyhan mentioned this new knowledge is “consistent with the notion that fears about ‘echo chambers’ may be overstated.”

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