Survey: Majority Sees Bias in Chosen News Outlet's Election Coverage

(Image credit: Pew)

Two thirds of American adults polled (67%) said that the sources of news they turn to have presented biased views of the election. Specifically, they said those outlets had "presented factual information that favors one side of an issue in coverage of the 2020 election."

That is according to a new Pew Research Center survey that also found that more than half (56%) of respondents said those outlets had published breaking news without fully verifying it, and that 37% said those outlets made up stuff to mislead the public.

That comes as news outlets are being advised in some quarters to do something against their 24-hour-news cycle grain in reporting on the Nov. 3 election--be patient and don't call states or races too quickly.

Related: Pew Survey Finds Social Media Political News Consumers Are Less Engaged

The survey was conducted Oct. 6-12 among 10,059 adults, more than 80% of whom are registered voters. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.

Almost six in 10 (59%) said that "made-up information that is intended to mislead" causes a lot of confusion about the presidential race.

Republicans appear to have less trust in their own favorite news sources. About twice as many registered voters who back Trump said they think the news sources they turn to most often report made-up information intended to mislead, compared to only 22% of Biden supporters who said that about their favorite news outlets, while 59% of Trump backers said their outlets of choice report breaking info that hasn't been verified, vs. 50% of Biden supporters who said that.

The vast majority of the survey respondents (85%) said that Trump and Biden supporters can't agree on "basic facts about important issues," which does not bode well for healing the current political divisions (When each side was asked, 89% of Trump voters said they disagree on basic facts, and 91% of Biden voters). As troubling, 80% also said that Americans tend to get different "facts" depending on which news sources they turn to.

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.