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Fewer than half of Americans believe media provided 'clear view' of coronavirus dangers

Voters under age 35 more likely than older respondents to believe media fueled panic by overhyping peril.

April 16, 2020 9:00am

Updated: April 16, 2020 11:03pm

Sixty-seven percent of Democrats give the national media good marks for their handling of coronavirus coverage, while 55% of Republicans think the media overhyped the danger and created a panic, according to the Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen.

"These results reflect a fairly typical partisan divide on the media," Rasmussen said. "For many Republicans – probably most – that national media or mainstream media is viewed as liberal media. They dismiss it in the same way that most Democrats dismiss conservative media outlets as partisan and biased."

Rasmussen noted that voters under 35 are evenly divided as to whether the media overhyped the danger. However, older voters give the media somewhat better marks.

"It is also interesting to note the generational differences," he said. "This obviously runs counter to the partisan leanings mentioned earlier. After all, younger voters are more likely to lean left in the political realm.

"While it's impossible to say for certain, it is likely that younger voters feel the impact of the lockdown more harshly since they are more likely to be out and about. Additionally, younger workers are more likely to feel the pain of income loss. At the same time, younger voters are less at risk from the coronavirus than their grandparents. This combination may – may – lead them to think the media response has overhyped the situation."

Data from sources like the Pew Research Center show Trump supporters and Republicans have a deep distrust of the national media. Research by Tom Patterson, a Harvard University Kennedy School of Government professor of government and the press, shows at least 80% of mainstream media coverage of Trump was negative during his first 100 days in office, what Patterson called an unprecedented figure.

On Monday, the White House cited a recent Gallup poll finding 55% of Americans disapprove of the media’s coronavirus coverage, while just  38% disapproving of the president's handling of the virus. 

All respondents in the Just the News survey were asked: "Did the national news media create a panic by overhyping the coronavirus or did they serve the public by providing a clear view of the dangers?" Respondents replied as below:

  • 36% Overhyped the coronavirus
  • 49% Provided a clear view of the dangers
  • 15% Not Sure

The national survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted April 9-11, 2020 by Rasmussen, a polling veteran. Margin of sampling error: +/- 2.8% for full sample. 

To see the full demographic cross-tabulations for this polling question, click below:

Just the News Spotlight