A new poll from Pew Research breaks down conservatism and leftism in the media – and comes up with a number of interesting results. As it turns out, leftists are far less tolerant that conservatives and implicitly trust government sources.
The poll itself is composed of 16 percent consistent leftists, 22 percent who identify as mostly leftists, 36 percent mixed, 17 percent mostly conservative, and 9 percent consistently conservative. The gap between left and right here – 38 percent to 26 percent – is not justified by party registration in the United States, for which the latest Gallup polls show a 30-26 Democratic advantage.
Conservatives Use Fox News, Leftists Use Everything Else. 47 percent of consistent conservatives say they watch Fox News, as do 31 percent of those who identify as mostly conservative; leftists, however, split relatively evenly between CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and The New York Times. This would explain Fox’s market dominance: it is essentially a conservative monopoly, and leftists at the top of the media food chain are content to leave it that way thanks to their own political biases. The one unifying factor for conservatives and liberals seems to be some reliance on local television, which means that local community could still trump political polarization in terms of media consumption.
Leftists Trust The Media. The poll shows that consistent leftists trust the following sources: BBC, NPR, PBS, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, USA Today, Google News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, The Guardian, Bloomberg, The New Yorker, Politico, Yahoo News, Mother Jones, Slate, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, ThinkProgress, Slate, and even Al Jazeera America.
Leftists Love Government Sources. The most trusted leftist news sources overall come from the government: NPR (72 percent), PBS (71) percent, and the BBC (69 percent). The least extreme leftists follow CBS News, Google News, Bloomberg, ABC News, and USA Today. The most extreme leftists follow The New Yorker, Slate, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, among others.
Conservatives Trust Some Leftist News Sources. Most troubling for conservatives is the fact that many conservatives seem to trust what are generally considered leftist news sources. According to Pew, while hard-core conservatives trust only 8 news sources (Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Breitbart News, The Blaze, The Sean Hannity Show, The Rush Limbaugh Show, and The Glenn Beck Program), those who identify as mostly conservative still trust a panoply of leftist sources, ranging from The Economist to the BBC, from ABC News, to USA Today. According to the poll, 23 percent of those identifying as mostly conservative watch MSNBC, as opposed to 38 percent of consistent leftists.
Fox News Has a More Balanced Audience Than MSNBC. The poll shows that 55 percent of those who watch Fox News are either mixed in political viewpoint or leftist; 52 percent of those who watch MSNBC are either mixed or conservative. The most balanced outlet: The Wall Street Journal, although surprisingly, those who are consistently conservative read the paper the least of all ideological groups (13 percent of the audience is consistently conservative).
Leftists Think Humor Is News. Leftists trust The Colbert Report and The Daily Show as news. We knew this already from polls of young people who cite these shows as some of their top news sources, but it underscores the point that leftists simply do not take politics seriously – they’re happy to take their cues from people who began their careers making fart jokes. It is worth noting that the audience for The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and The Huffington Post are virtually identical in ideological composition. The Daily Show‘s audience does not exist on the political right, with just 7 percent of its viewers identified as conservative in any way.
Nobody Trusts BuzzFeed. The least-trusted news source is BuzzFeed. It is not trusted by consistent liberals, mostly liberals, mixed political viewpoints, mostly conservatives, or consistent conservatives. At least consistent conservatives trust The Rush Limbaugh Show and consistent leftists trust The Ed Schultz Show. Nobody trusts BuzzFeed.
Conservatives Trust Breitbart; Leftists Don’t. Those of mixed political viewpoint are mixed on Breitbart News; conservatives trust Breitbart, and leftists don’t.
Leftists Trust Politico; Conservatives Don’t. Politico represents Breitbart’s mirror image, despite all of its attempts to “mainstream itself.” The right doesn’t trust Politico; the middle is mixed; the left trusts Politico implicitly.
Leftists Are Intolerant. Overall, just 40 percent of consistent conservatives use Facebook for news, as opposed to 49 percent of consistent leftists; that gap is 5 percent against 13 percent on Twitter. According to the poll, 44 percent of consistent leftists state have blocked political opponents on social media. Consistent conservatives do this at a 31 percent clip; only 26 percent of average Facebook users do that. And leftists are more active on social media, with 60 percent liking political causes, as opposed to 46 percent of conservatives – while conservatives outpace leftists in terms of liking political candidates, leftist overwhelm conservatives in terms of liking issue-based groups. Conservatives, by contrast, are more likely to hang out with those of similar ideological viewpoints, with 66 percent of consistently conservative people saying most of their close friends “share my views on government and politics”; 52 percent of consistent leftists say the same. That gap could also be attributable to leftist self-identification as open-minded – the reality is that consistent leftists are 8 percent more likely than consistent conservatives to drop a friend over politics.
Consistent Conservatives Are More Enthusiastic About Politics Than Leftists. The geniuses in the Republican Party seem to believe that the base of the Republican Party matters less than the deep pockets on the coasts. But the poll shows that consistently conservative people out-passion people on the left by broad margins: 81 percent of consistently conservative people enjoy talking politics, as opposed to 69 percent of hard-core leftists. And consistent conservatives talk about politics several times per week – 68 percent talk politics frequently. Disheartening that base is the height of stupidity.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.