Finally … polling we can trust. Last week, two pollsters added questions to their presidential-race surveys to test the prevalence of media-bias belief in the electorate, and both found wide majorities calling it real — and spectacularly tilted in one direction. The Hill’s Joe Concha caught up with the results last week:
The Suffolk University/USA Today poll released Friday asks, “Who do you think the media, including major newspapers and TV stations, would like to see elected president: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?”
Of the 1,000 adults surveyed, 75.9 percent answered Clinton, while just 7.9 percent picked Trump, the Republican nominee. Just more than 16 percent of respondents chose either “neither” or “undecided.”
The Suffolk University/USA Today poll comes on the heels of an Associated Press/GkF poll last week showing that 56 percent of likely voters, including 87 percent of his supporters, believe the media is biased against Trump.
Suffolk’s poll has some even more interesting data. The survey took place between October 20th to 24th, and had Hillary up by slightly over ten points, 49.2/38.9 in a two-way race, and slightly under ten points in the four-way, 47.4/37.6. Needless to say, this was not a Trump-friendly sample; while Hillary’s net favorability was a -1, Trump’s was a -30.
And yet, the same sample overwhelmingly thought the media was in the tank for Hillary — 75.1% (not 75.9%), while only 7.9% thought they were tilting to Trump. Clearly, some of Hillary’s own voters fall into the former category. Only 4.9% couldn’t detect a media bias in election coverage this cycle, a spectacular failure for the media.
It gets worse for the media after that. When asked whether the media actively coordinated with the campaigns for its coverage, only 47.8% said no. Another 38.8% believe that the media does coordinate with the campaigns, and another 12.6% could not be sure. Combined, that accounts for 51.4% of respondents — indicating a majority of likely voters either question the integrity of media outlets, or are flat-out convinced they’re corrupt. That goes well beyond Trump’s support in the poll, too.
The AP/GfK poll doesn’t delve as deeply as Suffolk, but the results are fairly similar. Taken during the exact same period as Suffolk’s, Hillary scored a fifteen-point lead among likely voters in the four-way question, 48/33, and a 51/37 with leaners. Yet 56% in the same group said that the media had been biased against Trump, and 51% also said that they were biased in favor of Hillary. (Those who say that coverage was “mostly balanced” for each candidate comprised 37% and 39%, respectively.)
The recognition of media bias in favor of Democrats goes far beyond Republicans and Trump supporters. As I wrote in an earlier column for The Week, media bias has become so obvious as to be beyond denial any longer:
The media bias about which Republicans have long complained has become undeniable reality in the 2016 campaign. Now, it’s not hard to see why the national media is biased against conservatives. While there are plenty of conservatives working at national newspapers and political magazines in New York and Washington, the bulk of the journalists that comprise what most Americans think of as the “mainstream” media lean left. It doesn’t take some cabal of liberal journalists hatching anti-Republican plots in the middle of the night to achieve the media’s broad anti-Republican bias. It just takes an industry that tends to employ more liberals than conservatives. For example, journalists have given nearly $400,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And Trump’s?
The watchdog Center for Public Integrity on Monday said that journalists favored Clinton 27-1 over Trump, who got a tiny $14,000.
Some 430 in the media business donated to Clinton compared to 50 to Trump. [Washington Examiner]
You can see bias in the actual coverage, too. A study from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center of the four weeks encompassing and surrounding the two major-party political conventions makes this obvious. Trump’s news coverage during this period was 75 percent negative; the friendliest week Trump got from the media was the week of the convention itself — when it was “only” 55 percent negative
Contrast that with the treatment Hillary Clinton received in the same period, which overall was 44 percent positive. Where no news outlet in the Shorenstein study managed to get to 40 percent positive coverage of Trump, all but one (Washington Times) had 40 percent or more positive coverage of Clinton. Four of the 11 media outlets offered better than 50 percent positive coverage to Clinton. While coverage of Trump’s qualifications only generated 22 percent positive coverage, 69 percent of the coverage of Clinton’s leadership qualities was positive.
Everyone is noticing it now — and that’s the media has dispensed with any attempt at subtlety this cycle. For many of us, it stopped being subtle many cycles ago, and now we’re finally seeing vindication not only on the existence of media bias, but recognition of it.