- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

The old bumper-sticker adage “my country right or wrong” still appeals to Republicans, according to a survey of public values released yesterday by the Pew Research Center.

Among Republicans, 66 percent said we should be willing to fight for America, “whether it is right or wrong.”

The figure stood at 33 percent among Democrats and 42 percent among independents — prompting the Pew researchers to conclude that the GOP “is more hawkish and the Democrats are more dovish than at any time in the past few decades.”

Indeed, more than three-quarters of Democrats think diplomacy is the best way to ensure peace, compared with only 32 percent of Republicans. Sixty-six percent of Republicans said military force is the best way to defeat terrorism, compared with 17 percent of Democrats.

Meanwhile, 43 percent of the American public felt press criticism of the military actually weakens our defenses — up from 28 percent in 1991.

Those who regularly attend church and have traditional religious views increasingly vote Republican, a trend that the Pew researchers deemed “a powerful new reality,” adding that “religious practice is the most important demographic characteristic in shaping electoral behavior.”

Almost two-thirds of President Bush’s supporters said they attended church more than once a week — compared with 35 percent of those who voted for Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who was Mr. Bush’s opponent in November’s election.

While many Americans favor separation of church and state, Pew said the survey also revealed “an equally strong belief that religion should have a substantial presence in public life.”

A full 72 percent of Americans want their president to have strong religious beliefs and 52 percent said churches should express views on political matters — though 69 percent said churches should not endorse political candidates.

Forty-five percent said that Hollywood was “unfriendly” towards religion; only 16 percent said Tinseltown was “friendly” toward faith, while 31 percent said it was neutral. Thirty-four percent said the news media also were hostile to religion, with 16 percent deeming the media “friendly” and 41 percent neutral.

“Public discontent with the news media has increased dramatically,” the Pew report said, adding that 58 percent of Americans had at least “some” confidence in the media — compared with 86 percent in 1973. Almost a third — 32 percent — believe the press is “immoral,” compared with 13 percent in 1995.

Fifty-three percent said there was a liberal bias in reporting; only 29 percent said the press attempted to remove bias from stories. Thirty-six percent said news organizations got the facts straight; 62 percent said the press covers up its mistakes.

Among Republicans, 65 percent see the news media as liberal, and 41 percent of Democrats agreed. The survey found only 7 percent of journalists and 26 percent of news organizations called themselves conservative.

“The relatively small number of conservatives in journalism raises concerns over the potential for liberal group-think in the nation’s newsrooms,” the researchers observed.

The Pew findings, released yesterday as a reference volume called “Trends 2005,” were compiled from polls conducted last year by six of the District-based nonpartisan group’s research divisions. The data can be viewed at the group’s Web site (www.pewresearch.org).

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