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Pew: Trump Was Major GOP COVID-19 News Source Early On

A close-up image of COVID-19
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For almost a third of Republicans, former President Donald Trump was their most-relied-on source of news about the COVID-19 virus in the early stages of the pandemic. 

Also Read: GP Says Fraud Claims Get Too Little Attention

That is according to a Pew Research center report, the last based on its year-long American News Pathways Project, which included that finding in a survey back in late April.

And of those in the survey who said they had relied on Trump for COVID-19 news, a little over half (53%) said that the pandemic "had been made into a bigger deal than it really was." And despite the mounting death toll by September, a survey of the panel at that time found that 75% of those who relied on Trump for news said the pandemic was not as big a deal as it had been made out to be.

And while 44% of Republicans in general had said in the April survey it had been made into a bigger deal than it was, by September that had increased to 63%.

Republicans' "attention to" COVID-19 news apparently in inverse proportion to its spread and growing death count. 

Also Read: Survey Majority Sees Bias in News Outlet Election Coverage

According to mid-March survey, 48% of Republicans said they were paying "very close" attention to the virus, which dropped to 43% by late April, then to 35% in early June, to 26% in early September, which only bumped up slightly to 28% in November, when the virus was spiking. 

Democrats attention level stayed relatively steady, from 53% in March to 49% in April to 44% in June and September and back up to 47% in November. 

The survey also looked at election news.

For Republicans who said they relied on Trump as a major source for news about the election, 73% in a November survey said allegations of election fraud were getting too little attention. Even among the Republicans who weren't using Trump and his campaign as a major source of election news, over half (55%) also said those allegations, which proved baseless, were getting too little attention.

The analysis was based on data from 10 surveys of a random sample of more than 9,000 U.S. adults, all  participants in Pew's American Trends Panel (ATP) online survey. The margin of error was plus or minus 1.4-1.7 percentage points.