- The Washington Times - Monday, August 31, 2020

Once again, a major study reveals that the relationship between most news organizations and the public is complicated, emotional and rocky. A wide-ranging, yearlong study conducted by the Pew Research Center finds that Americans are skeptical about the quality of news they get, but more importantly, they fret about the “intentions behind it.” Three-fourths also say the news organizations fail to reveal where their money actually comes from.

A majority of U.S. adults — 54% — say the public does not have confidence in the news media while 52% say they do not personally have confidence in the media to act in the best interest of the public. And that same public indeed pays attention to lousy, flimsy or manipulative news products.

“The reasons for why Americans think these mistakes happen underscore the distrust that substantial portions of the public feel: Many say that careless reporting (55%) or even a desire to mislead the public (44%) are major factors behind significant mistakes in news stories, although other, less negligent or nefarious reasons such as the rapid pace of breaking news (53%) also are seen as responsible for mistakes,” said the analysis, which is based on the opinions of some 10,300 U.S. adults.

It also pointed out that the public actually pines for a personal relationship with their press, particularly local outlets close to home. This is a tall order now that the nation has a news “industry” at work which can easily defeat smaller or more localized providers.

“While most Americans want to have personal connections with their news sources, many do not experience it. More than half of U.S. adults say their news outlets do not particularly value them (57%) or that news organizations do not understand people like them (59%), and nearly two-thirds (63%) say they do not feel particularly loyal to the outlets they get their news from,” the Pew Research analysis said.



See more telling numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

THE PERFECT TRUMP HEADLINE

“Trump hits campaign trail as Biden hits the skids. The president will build on his RNC success with a 21st century whistle stop tour,” writes David Catron, columnist for the American Spectator.

BIDEN’S FAILURE

Surely, voters are beginning to wonder why Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden has not significantly weighed in on social unrest, violence, murder, arson and other heinous events that continue to occur around the nation. And surely, these same voters will remember this silence when election time nears.

“As predicted, Joe Biden failed to condemn the left-wing mobs burning, looting, and terrorizing American cities. He failed to condemn Antifa. He failed to condemn people who called the police a ‘cancer’ or people on his campaign staff who called them ‘pigs.’ He failed to apologize for his campaign staff donating to a fund which bailed violent criminals out of jail in Minneapolis. He failed to urge Democrat governors to call in the National Guard. He failed to urge Democrat mayors to allow the federal government to help. In short, he failed,” says Tim Murtaugh, communications director for President Trump’s reelection campaign.

“These left-wing rioters are Joe Biden supporters trashing cities run by Democrats who support his candidacy. He has repeatedly given them cover by excusing their violence by calling them ‘peaceful protestors’ and accusing law enforcement of ‘stoking the fires of division.’ At the same time, he has condoned the ‘Defund the Police’ movement by agreeing to cut police funding, further egging on anti-police radicals in his party. In truth, if you listen to Biden, it’s almost impossible to tell where his campaign ends and Antifa begins. You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Mr. Murtaugh advises in his handy summation.

MORE DIVIDED IN OBAMA ERA

Maybe it wasn’t quite so harmonious in President Obama’s era.

“Voters see a more divided America after four years of the Trump presidency — but think the country is less divided than it was when Barack Obama stepped down,” notes a Rasmussen Reports survey released Monday.

It found that 63% of likely U.S. voters think America is a more divided nation than it was four years ago. Only 9% say the country is less divided, while 23% see the level of division as about the same,” said the survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted Aug. 26-27.

But wait. Curious about that particular sentiment during the Obama administration? Here’s exactly what the pollster found four years ago:

“Voters don’t share President Obama’s upbeat assessment of the nation, and strongly believe the United States is coming apart. Even the majority of his fellow Democrats share that gloomy assessment,” said a Rasmussen poll published Aug. 12, 2016.

It found that 72% of likely U.S. voters then believed America is a more divided nation than it had been four years previous.

“Clearly voters think things are getting worse because that’s up 11 points from the 61% who felt that way just before Election Day two years ago,” this week’s poll said.

MEANWHILE IN KANSAS

“Just the concern that campus statues of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin might draw racial unrest, protests or vandalism prompted Washburn University leaders to quietly and preemptively remove the bronze Founding Fathers after a conversation with the pieces’ donor family,” says Jennifer Kabbany, editor of the College Fix, a nonprofit news organization.

The life-sized statues were removed from the Topeka, Kansas, school in July, according to spokesman Patrick Early, who also noted there were “no specific protests against the statues to prompt their eviction.”

POLL DU JOUR

72% of U.S. adults say news organizations do not reveal “where their money comes from.”

60% say news organizations do not reveal whether their content presents “a conflict of interest.”

57% say the organizations do not reveal “how they choose their sources.”

55% say they do not reveal “whether a story is opinion or factual.”

51% say they do not reveal “how they produce their stories.”

48% say they do not reveal “when a correction has been made.”

Source: Primarily based on a Pew Research Center survey of 10,300 adults conducted from Feb. 18 to March.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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