Americans slam news media for dividing country, peddling misinformation: Poll

Americans believe the country’s news media is aggravating political polarization in the US, with nearly half of US adults saying they have little or no trust in the media’s ability to report the news fairly and accurately, a new poll reveals.

Concern about the threat posed by misinformation unites Americans of both dominant political parties, with nearly 9 in 10 US adults pointing to misinformation as the key problem, according to the latest survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights advocacy organization.

A third of American adults state that they see news stories with false claims from politicians or misleading headlines every day, according to the poll, whose results were released just before the so-called World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday.

It further shows that Americans have significant concerns about misinformation — and the role played by media conglomerates closely tied to the US establishment along with politicians and major social media companies in spreading it.

Social media plays a key role, the survey shows, with nearly two-thirds of respondents pointing out that when they see a news story on social media, they expect it to be inaccurate. Those who stated they rely on social media regularly for their news were somewhat more likely to trust it than others.

Overall, nearly 6 in 10 participants further insisted that the news media bears blame for the spread of misinformation, and a similar percentage also said it has a large amount of responsibility for addressing it.

Majorities also believe others — including social media companies and politicians — share in the responsibility both for the spread of misinformation and for blocking it from dissemination.

Four in 10 respondents further said the press is doing more to harm American democracy, while only about 2 in 10 stated the press is doing more to protect it. An additional 4 in 10 say neither applies.

The survey confirms the growing belief around the globe that quite contrarily to their oft-repeated claims, Western media are closely tied to their respective governments and their allies, and largely fabricate news stories to serve their political and economic aims and interests in different regions of the world.

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