Poll finds reporting perceived as biased; less agreement on direction of tilt

More than 60 percent of adults agree that there is bias in the reporting of news, but there is less agreement about whether it’s a liberal or conservative bias, according to a new nationwide Harris Poll.

Viewers say the hosts of talk shows are equally critical of Republicans and Democrats, the poll found. Poll results also show more adults say they turn to CNN and FOX News when seeking news or information about public affairs or politics.

Among the findings:

  • Almost four in 10 U.S. adults (37 percent) listen to talk shows on the radio at least once a week, and 29 percent watch political or public affairs TV shows at least once a week.
  • CNN (20 percent) and FOX News (18 percent) are the television channels adults most often turn to when they want news or information related to politics or public affairs. This is followed by ABC (9 percent), NBC (8 percent), CBS (7 percent), MSNBC (5 percent), C-SPAN (3 percent), PBS (3 percent) and CNBC (1 percent).
  • FOX News is used by 39 percent of heavy media users followed by CNN at 22 percent. Among light media users, CNN ranked at 21 percent followed by ABC (13 percent), NBC (11 percent), CBS (9 percent) and FOX News (8 percent).
  • CNN's viewers are more likely to be Democrats (42 percent) or independents (29 percent) than Republicans (19 percent).
  • FOX News viewers are more likely to be Republicans (63 percent) as compared to Democrats (12 percent) or independents (20 percent).
  • FOX News viewers are more likely to say they are conservative (61 percent) than moderate (35 percent) or liberal (4 percent). CNN viewers are more likely to say they are moderate (61 percent) than liberal (27 percent) or conservative (12 percent).

The Harris poll also found that of those who watch talk shows at least once a month, 22 percent think talk show hosts are more critical of Democrats, and 25 percent say the hosts are more critical of Republicans. The remaining 52 percent say that the hosts are equally critical of both parties.

Sixty-three percent of Republicans say there is a bias in the news reporting. Thirty-one percent aren’t sure, and 5 percent think there is no bias, the poll found.

Overall, adults think there is more of a liberal bias (38 percent) than a conservative bias (25 percent). While this may not be surprising, the fact that the findings don't show an even greater liberal bias is noteworthy, according to Harris.

The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 7 and 13, 2006, among 1179 adults.

For more information, visit www.harrisinteractive.com.