Twice as Many Americans say the News Media is Hurting Democracy Instead of Protecting It

Most Americans think the news media increases political division and many Americans lack confidence in the news media’s ability to report fairly. 

WHY IT MATTERS –Americans’ views on the news media and the spread of misinformation have important implications for the health of democracy in the United States. Misinformation can increase political polarization and undermine trust in institutions, making it crucial to understand attitudes toward the news media and misinformation to improve the health of democracy.

POLITICAL DIVISION – A recent AP-NORC poll asked Americans if they believe the news media is doing more to increase political division, decrease political division, or if it has no impact.

  • 74 percent –Increase political division
  • 6 percent –Decrease political division
  • 18 percent –Does not have an impact 

CONCERNS ABOUT MISINFORMATION –The recent poll asked Americans about their views on misinformation. 

The poll asked Americans how confident they are in the news media’s ability to report the news fully and fairly. 

  • 16 percent –Very confident 
  • 45 percent –Little to no confidence 

The poll found that almost 90 percent of Americans think misinformation is a significant issue, regardless of their political leanings. One-third said they encounter news stories with false claims or misleading headlines on a daily basis.

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS –The poll asked respondents if they believed the U.S. government is doing a good job or a bad job protecting the freedom of the press. 

  • 44 percent –Good job 
  • 24 percent –Bad job 

Most Americans are at least somewhat concerned about the safety of journalists. Roughly one-third said they’re very concerned or extremely concerned about attacks on the press.

THE BOTTOM LINE –A majority of Americans view misinformation as a problem, and there is a lack of trust in the news media across political affiliations. This has significant implications for the health of democracy in the United States, as the news media plays a critical role in informing citizens and holding those in power accountable.


AP NEWS – Americans fault news media for dividing nation: AP-NORC poll