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RMU Survey Says Bias Is Plaguing American Media

American media outlets are losing audiences because of bias, according to a survey released by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute.

Of the 1,004 people sampled in the survey, more than 77 percent believe the news media has a political agenda and are attempting to influence public opinion. Similarly, 72 percent agree the news media are trying to change public policy.

Anthony Moretti, an associate professor of communication at Robert Morris University, said the majority of Americans see bias in all forms of media.

“Whether that bias is severe or whether it’s minor is really irrelevant,” he said. “What people are saying is, we think, that too many news organizations have moved from telling us what the story is to what they want us to believe the story should be.”

And it shows.

According to the poll, only 27 percent of Americans trust all or most news media coverage, and many believe the problem stems from the journalists.

About 28 percent of people feel reporters and newscasters are responsible for the bias, while 20 percent said it’s the fault of the outlets striving for higher ratings. About 15 percent believe the advertisers are to blame.

But when did Americans become so critical of its media? Moretti thinks it all started with the creation of FOX News.

“Fairly or unfairly, this traces to FOX over the past 15 or 20 years,” he said, “because FOX was the one entity that openly said, from the very beginning that, ‘fair and balanced is our slogan, but to you, you could interpret that many different ways.”

Nearly one-half of Americans see FOX News as the most bias news outlet, followed by MSNBC (37.1) and CNN (36.6), according to the report.

At the same time, the poll shows FOX News to be the most trusted network for accurate and objective reporting with 18.4 percent of people responding favorably. Next were CNN (14.1) and ABC News (7.5).

Americans also said the news media favor political ideologies. According to the poll, more than 45 percent see the U.S. news media favoring liberals over conservatives and nearly 13 percent believe the media favors conservatives over liberals. About 16 percent stated the media had no political bias.

Moretti said all of this mistrust stems from news marketing.

“There’s the sense among many members of the public that the value of information has been commodified in a way, that it’s able to be bought,” he said. “It’s able to be sold.”

The RMU Polling Institute is funded in part by Trib Total Media.