The Newseum Institute’s annual survey on the state of the First Amendment was released on Friday. You can read the results here. There are lots of interesting findings, although, as with any single survey, they should be taken with a grain of salt.
Support for the First Amendment is high and rising, with only 19% saying the amendment “goes too far,” while 75% disagree. Of course, these numbers are of limited significance, since only a tiny minority of Americans can correctly name the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The most striking finding, to me, is the American public’s complete lack of faith in the news media. This was the question:
Please tell us if you agree or disagree with the following statements:
Q.3 Overall, the news media tries to report the news without bias.
In response, only 24% agreed that the news media try to report the news without bias, while a whopping 70% disagreed. Here are the numbers from 2004 to the present:
Note what a harsh indictment this is: 70% of Americans (in this poll, at least) say the news media don’t even try to be unbiased. They are, in other words–as Glenn Reynolds likes to say–Democratic operatives with bylines.
As for the 24% who express a touching faith in the nation’s reporters and editors, I would guess that most are Democrats who know perfectly well what is going on, but choose to support their party’s press arm when answering questions from pollsters.
The problem for Democrats is that reporters, having lost virtually all of their credibility as objective observers, can be of only limited value to the party in the near future.