Voters Agree With Trump, Say Media Is Biased Toward Clinton

(Rob Kunzig/Morning Consult)

A plurality of Americans share the sentiment that media coverage is biased toward Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a view pushed for decades by Republicans, and most recently by the party’s current nominee, Donald Trump.

Days after Trump proclaimed to be running against two opponents – Clinton and the “disgusting and corrupt media” – a Morning Consult survey found almost four in 10 voters (38 percent) believe the media is biased in trying to help elect the Democratic nominee.

It was the mainstream media, the leading television stations and newspapers such as the ones Trump now critiques, who were blamed, in part, for egging on Trump’s candidacy during the Republican primary. In the view of Thomas E. Patterson, a professor of government and the press at Harvard University, “neither of the two basic indicators of news coverage would have predicted Trump’s heavy coverage,” coverage that he used to his advantage to propel his campaign without spending much on television commercials.

But if that was the case during the primary, voters do not believe it to be the case anymore. These days, only 12 percent of voters said the media is biased in trying to elect Trump. A sliver of Trump’s supporters (9 percent) believe the media is biased toward their candidate, while 66 percent of them said the media is trying to elect Clinton president.

Just a little more than one in 10 Trump supporters (13 percent) said the media is fair and unbiased, compared with about a quarter of the overall population. The sentiment among Trump’s supporters was almost identical to that of all the Republican voters surveyed.

Among Clinton’s supporters, four in 10 Americans said they viewed the media as unbiased, while 16 percent said it was biased toward helping elect Trump and only 19 percent said it was biased toward trying help elect Clinton.

More than half of American voters (51 percent) said they’ve paid a lot of attention to the 2016 presidential race, with almost four in 10 voters (37 percent) saying they’d followed it some. Generally speaking, they have a pessimistic view when it comes to how the media has covered it.

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One-third of voters said the media performed performed poorly in treating each candidate fairly, while less than a quarter (23 percent) said news outlets were doing a good job on that front. More than half of Clinton’s supporters (53 percent) said the media was doing an either excellent or good job, while 55 percent of Trump’s supporters said the media was performing poorly in providing fair coverage. More than a third of independents (34 percent) graded the coverage as unfair.

News outlets scored best with voters when they were asked about the amount of coverage given to the major party nominees. When it came to Trump, 54 percent said the media was giving an excellent or good amount of coverage, compared with 61 percent who said Clinton was garnering an excellent or good amount.

A quarter of Republicans said Trump was getting a poor amount of coverage, while 33 percent of them said he was getting a good amount. Roughly one in 10 Democrats (13 percent) said Trump was getting a poor amount coverage, but 38 percent said he was getting a good amount.

Republicans (40 percent) and Democrats (42 percent) both more or less agreed that Clinton was getting a good amount of media coverage, while only about one in 10 of them thought she wasn’t being covered enough.

Voters were split pretty evenly when asked about the quality of coverage: 27 percent said it has been good, 24 percent said it was only fair and 26 percent said it was poor. And while 24 percent of voters said the media’s accuracy was either good or “only fair,” 29 percent of them said it was poor.

The online survey of 2,001 voters was conducted Aug. 16-17, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent. See the toplines and crosstabs.

Morning Consult