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Perception of conservative bias in media 64 percent higher since Sept. 2001
Nick Juliano
Published: Monday October 8, 2007

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Near majority who see 'liberal' media unchanged compared to growth in conservative perception

The number of Americans who see the media as too conservative has grown by 64 percent since September of 2001, while the larger proportion of those who see it as too liberal has stagnated over the same period, according to a new Gallup poll.

About one in five respondents in a recent survey -- 18 percent -- see the media as being too conservative a 63.6 percent increase over the 11 percent who saw conservative bias six years ago, Gallup found. Perceptions of conservative bias have increased steadily since 2001 and were slightly higher last year, when 19 percent said the media favored the right wing.

Nearly half of Americans see the media as being too liberal, but that measure in the survey released Monday did not move from the 45 percent who saw liberal bias in 2001.

"The tendency on the part of Americans to perceive the news media as too liberal has been observed in each Gallup survey in which this question has been asked since 2001," writes Gallup pollster Frank Newport. "Still, if there is a perceptible trend, it is the finding that the 'too conservative' number has been climbing slightly throughout the decade."

The liberal bias perception seems overwhelmingly fueled by Republicans, more than three in four of whom say the media is left-leaning, but Democrats are not as likely to see conservative bias in the media. In fact, slightly more independents (25 percent) than Democrats (22 percent) told pollsters the media is too conservative, although a 43 percent plurality of independents saw a liberal bias.

A solid majority of Democrats (59 percent) found the media was "just right" in providing balanced political coverage, while about a third of Americans, regardless of party affiliation, said there was no bias in the media.

Overall, more than half of Americans have little or no trust and confidence in the media's ability to fairly report the news, while just 9 percent say they give the media a "great deal" of trust.

That finding is consistent with poll results over the last few years, but it marks a steep decline in Americans' trust in journalists since Pew began asking the question during and after the Watergate scandal. Faith in the media reached its zenith in June 1976, when 72 percent of Americans trusted the media.

Conservative bloggers honed in on the perceptions of conservative bias, saying the poll results reflected the charge leveled by many on the right that the national press corps is in the pocket of the Democratic party. Several blogs harped on the unchanged liberal bias perception while discounting those who see too much conservativism and ignoring the increase in conservative perception.

"Actually this is telling and a rebuke to the left-wing blabber mouths of the net such as Moveon.org, Media Matters, Daily Kos and others who drone on about 'conservative imbalance.' It should also be used as a proof that if there is a problem with unbalanced media then itís on the left, not the right," writes a blogger at Macsmind. "As a PS, 'One in five', who think that there is too much 'conservative' in the media mix, the fact that it isnít a huge number and it shows just how marginal their blabbering is."

On the same day the report was released, several right-wing bloggers also jumped on what they saw as an unfair discrepancy between media reports of a decrease in troop deaths in Iraq last month.

"So only report the enemyís news, and not ours. Itís not like we need to have a more complete and balanced picture of whatís going on in Iraq, is it MSM?" wrote the Jawa Report. "Gotta get those anti-war Democrats into the White House, after all!"

John Cole, writing at his blog Balloon Juice, compiled several conservative reactions to an interview aired on CNN Sunday in which Pentagon reporters discussed the complications in deciding how to play reports that troop deaths went down in September.

"The drop in casualties was covered- what didnít happen was that the press didnít make all sorts of sweeping generalizations about the data," Cole wrote. "They acted, in other words, like a responsible press corps."

He said he takes "with a grain of salt" the reports that conservatives distrust the media.

"It is becoming clearer and clearer to me," he writes, "that 'too liberal' is, for many of these folks, code for 'they donít tell me exactly what I want to hear.'"