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92% of Republicans think media intentionally reports fake news

Nearly all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (92%) say that traditional news outlets knowingly report false or misleading stories at least sometimes, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll. Democrats and non-leaning independents also feel this way, but not nearly to the same extent.

Data: SurveyMonkey poll conducted June 15-19, 2018. Poll methodology; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: The data shows that trust in the media is heavily influenced by partisan politics, with Republicans more skeptical of mainstream media than their Democratic and independent counterparts. Other studies from Gallup and Pew Research Center have drawn similar conclusions.

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Across the board, trust in traditional news outlets continues to sink, with the overwhelming majority of Americans (70%) saying that "traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false, or purposely misleading."

  • President Trump has exacerbated the skepticism amongst hard-line conservatives with polarizing language (and tweets) about the mainstream media being "fake news."

Bad intentions: Among those who think traditional news outlets report false news, most think they do so intentionally.

  • More than two-thirds (65%) say fake news is usually reported because “people have an agenda.”
  • Roughly one-third (30%) believe such information is shared due to laziness or “poor fact-checking.”
  • Hardly anyone (3%) thinks that fake news makes headlines by accident.  

Most people say they can spot a fake piece of news. And while Republicans are much less likely to trust that traditional news sources publish real news, they and Democrats are both mostly confident, 78% and 73%, respectively, in their ability to identify whether a piece of news as fake.

When it comes to vetting news sources, roughly half of both parties say they “stick to news sources they trust.” However, Democrats are more likely to take additional steps to verify what they’ve read than Republicans, according to survey responses.

  • More than half of Democrats (57%) say they use Google search to verify facts compared to 48% of Republicans and 55% of independents.
  • Nearly half of Democrats (43%) say they use a fact-checking website (e.g., FactCheck.org or Snopes.com) to verify facts compared to 30% of Republicans and 29% of independents.
  • Nearly half of Democrats (44%) say they check a website URL to verify its validity compared to 29% of Republicans and 36% of independents.

Go Deeper: A breakdown of which outlets Republicans and Democrats view as biased and unbiased from the Neiman Lab.

Methodology: This SurveyMonkey/Axios online poll was conducted June 15–19 among a total sample of 3,936 adults, selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The full breakdown by demographics is located here.

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