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.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.