What Americans Care About vs. What the Media Cares About

 

Bloomberg released a poll Monday in which they gauged Americans’ mood six months into the new presidency. While Trump didn’t fare too well, Americans are quite optimistic about the economy in general and their personal financial health. As part of the study, Bloomberg asked respondents what they think is the top issue facing the country. Here are the results:

Not surprisingly, health care tops the list of concerns, followed by jobs and security issues. These findings are pretty typical, though the collapse of Obamacare and the GOP bills to fix it have caused health care to surge higher than usual. But look toward the center of the list. Russia, the issue that has dominated press coverage since the November election, scores a paltry 6 percent on Americans’ top concerns.

This lack of interest reminded me of a June 27 Media Research Center survey in which they calculated the amount of network news coverage of major issues. The results were radically different than the Bloomberg chart above:

Despite the American people caring far more about health care than any other issue, the media has swamped the airwaves with Trump/Russia conspiracies to the detriment of nearly everything else.

The difference between the people and the press was so jarring, I created a chart comparing the two studies. Granted, these studies were conducted by two different organizations using very different methods, but the juxtaposition was remarkable.

I totaled the time in the MRC study (469 min.) and calculated the percentage of time each issue was given. I then compared the percentage of media coverage on each issue to the percentages shown as Americans’ top issues:

Just 6 percent of Americans think Russia is the top issue, yet nightly newscasts devoted 75 percent of their airtime to the story. Meanwhile, Americans’ biggest concern, health care, only garnered 4 percent of the major networks’ total coverage.

The media have shown how drastically out of step they are with their own audience. If they want to earn back their hemorrhaging Nielsen numbers, perhaps they can spend time on something other than Russia Russia Russia.

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Members have made 27 comments.

  1. Profile photo of I Walton Member

    I want to see a poll that tracts media time and tone in the week previous to the poll, then questions that can ex post but independently correlate with media impact. I suspect that the balance of opinions changes daily based on what stories people have been exposed to and has no depth or meaning other than a mindless openness to spin. The anti Trump view is clearly a media phenomena, which he may feed, but it’s a media phenomena none the less. The screeching audiences in daytime or late night talk shows respond appropriately to liberal whistles because they’ve been primed to do so. Polls that go beyond vote don’t vote, yes no, can’t mean much but the drip drip of liberal bias in everything takes its toll.

    • #1
    • July 18, 2017 at 7:46 am
    • LikeLike
  2. Profile photo of Arnold Falk Member

    Great piece. Could there be any clearer proof how disconnected the main stream media is from the concerns of the average person?

    • #2
    • July 18, 2017 at 8:05 am
    • Like6 likes
  3. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    This is an interesting analysis.

    The people in our country who most need to hear and accept this truth–that the sensationalist headlines do not reflect the mind of Americans–are our elected officials and politicians.

    It would be far better for our politicians to keep an active personal social media website going, modeled on Ricochet, than to rely on the mainstream media. If you want to represent a group of people, you need to know what they want you to do.

    • #3
    • July 18, 2017 at 8:15 am
    • Like5 likes
  4. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    If the left were sane we would be bored.

    • #4
    • July 18, 2017 at 8:32 am
    • Like2 likes
  5. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    Of the 6% who consider the Russians to be concern #1, I wonder how many laughed at President Knucklehead’s “the Eighties want their foreign policy back” line or weren’t perturbed by “tell Vladimir that I’ll be more flexible after the election” message?

    • #5
    • July 18, 2017 at 9:20 am
    • Like6 likes
  6. Profile photo of Henry Racette Member

    Jon, your excellent graphic highlights a disparity between supply and demand. Usually, that means an opportunity exists, and that’s true here.

    Conservatives, the fact that the left is busy talking about things people really don’t care about means that there’s an opportunity for conservatives to talk about what people really do care about. So let’s take that opportunity by speaking up whenever and wherever we can.

    • #6
    • July 18, 2017 at 9:37 am
    • Like5 likes
  7. Profile photo of Kate Braestrup Member

    Given that the media is spending 75% of its time on Russia, it’s astonishing that the American people—the audience, after all, for all that Russia-Russia-Russia—isn’t expressing more interest in it.

    Is it that people aren’t watching? Or they watch for the entertainment value, but don’t really pay attention? Does all that enormous effort and energy transform the zero interest to 6% or, if their coverage dropped to zero, would Americans suddenly develop a passionate interest in Russia out of sheer perversity?

    During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, polls indicated that we apparently “cared” about it, but after all, it involved SEX which can always be counted upon to catch our Bonobo-like attention. That didn’t translate into support for Clinton’s impeachment, however. And we probably cared more about healthcare then, too, not that it did us much good.

    So what does our interest or lack of it in Russia mean?

    • #7
    • July 18, 2017 at 9:39 am
    • Like2 likes
  8. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    Given that the media is spending 75% of its time on Russia, it’s astonishing that the American people—the audience, after all, for all that Russia-Russia-Russia—isn’t expressing more interest in it.

    A couple of the guys who work for me a legit immigrants from South America, and one was visibly and verbally agitated at how out to lunch the media is on Russia.

    The other was merely annoyed at having to listen to it in the hotel lobby as we all worked together on a project.

    muh russia is played out, and is probably actively counter productive for the left/anti-trumpers at the moment.

    • #8
    • July 18, 2017 at 9:46 am
    • Like1 like
  9. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    Yah, but would Republicans really want more coverage of Healthcare right now? Interestingly enough they seem to be covering Climate Change just about right.

    Though I must admit that I am remain somewhat skeptical about the methodology of this piece. Because it doesn’t seem apparent to me that Russia getting more coverage is unreasonable given that it is a developing story, with new little tidbits coming out every week, and when that isn’t happening Trump adding fuel to the smoldering coals. The News covers changing events. If nothing is changing (for better or worse) it will not be news. The economy is kind of in the same spot it has been since last year more or less, same with healthcare which Republicans notwithstanding is still the same Obamacare we had last year, Terrorism only get coverage when it happens. Would it be fair to say most Americans care about football more than baseball, and because in the last two months ESPN has covered more baseball than football it is a sign of ESPN’s detachment from the interests of sports enthusiasts?

    • #9
    • July 18, 2017 at 9:55 am
    • Like2 likes
  10. Profile photo of Johnny Dubya Member

    Every morning, while I shower and shave, I listen to a podcast of the NBC Nightly News broadcast from the previous evening. This is mostly for entertainment purposes, to hear how biased, cheesy, and awful network news has become.

    The average broadcast basically goes like this:

    • Top story: Russia.
    • Trump’s tweets.
    • International incident.
    • Horrible crime.
    • Feel-good story.

    In particular, the feel-good story drives me batty. It’s not that I don’t like such stories. But every night? After commercials, the newscast runs about 22 minutes. They recently gave precious time to telling the story of a singing janitor.

    What a joke.

    • #10
    • July 18, 2017 at 10:32 am
    • Like4 likes
  11. Profile photo of Full Size Tabby Member

    From a straight-up selfish viewpoint, their business model may be in jeopardy from this discrepancy between what they are saying and what the public wants to hear about. My personal reasons for cancelling my newspaper subscription and looking at far fewer other news sources than I did in the past is their obsessions with topics I consider to be of low importance, and the obvious agenda that drove their article selections. How many other subscribers, readers, or viewers will stop subscribing/reading/viewing because they decide that the media is so out of step with the audience’s interests and priorities?

    • #11
    • July 18, 2017 at 11:12 am
    • Like1 like
  12. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Jon, this graph is excellent. You should be forwarding it to every ‘conservative friendly’ news outlet in the country. Hell, tweet it directly to Trump.

    • #12
    • July 18, 2017 at 11:56 am
    • Like7 likes
  13. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Jon, this graph is excellent. You should be forwarding it to every ‘conservative friendly’ news outlet in the country. Hell, tweet it directly to Trump.

    That’s a good idea, Your Honor. I’m fine with the press covering important developments on the Russia front, but the hourly freakouts about spurious leaks and wild speculation is madness.

    • #13
    • July 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm
    • Like8 likes
  14. Profile photo of Quinnie Member

    How could you not put our national debt as an issue to be assessed?! It is number 1, followed by everything else.

    • #14
    • July 18, 2017 at 1:16 pm
    • Like5 likes
  15. Profile photo of Henry Racette Member

    Quinnie (View Comment):
    How could you not put our national debt as an issue to be assessed?! It is number 1, followed by everything else.

    Certainly, the bloated spending-and-regulating state would be my first item. And climate change wouldn’t be on my list.

    • #15
    • July 18, 2017 at 1:21 pm
    • Like2 likes
  16. Profile photo of Steve C. Member

    Is the media a leading indicator?

    A trailing indicator?

    An irrelevant indicator?

    Or, is their target audience firmly ensconced within the confines of I495?

    • #16
    • July 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm
    • LikeLike
  17. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Jon, this graph is excellent. You should be forwarding it to every ‘conservative friendly’ news outlet in the country. Hell, tweet it directly to Trump.

    Second this idea.

    • #17
    • July 18, 2017 at 2:39 pm
    • Like2 likes
  18. Profile photo of Bob Thompson Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Quinnie (View Comment):
    How could you not put our national debt as an issue to be assessed?! It is number 1, followed by everything else.

    Certainly, the bloated spending-and-regulating state would be my first item. And climate change wouldn’t be on my list.

    This. Several items got my attention (jobs,immigration,taxes,healthcare) but I wouldn’t pick one of those because the spending-and-regulating state is what it really is. The part housing and education play is a big part, too.

    • #18
    • July 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm
    • LikeLike
  19. Profile photo of JcTPatriot Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Jon, this graph is excellent. You should be forwarding it to every ‘conservative friendly’ news outlet in the country. Hell, tweet it directly to Trump.

    That’s a good idea, Your Honor. I’m fine with the press covering important developments on the Russia front, but the hourly freakouts about spurious leaks and wild speculation is madness.

    Congratulations on the Ann Coulter re-tweet! She reaches a huge audience on Twitter!

    • #19
    • July 19, 2017 at 11:44 am
    • Like5 likes
  20. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    JcTPatriot (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Jon, this graph is excellent. You should be forwarding it to every ‘conservative friendly’ news outlet in the country. Hell, tweet it directly to Trump.

    That’s a good idea, Your Honor. I’m fine with the press covering important developments on the Russia front, but the hourly freakouts about spurious leaks and wild speculation is madness.

    Congratulations on the Ann Coulter re-tweet! She reaches a huge audience on Twitter!

    Jon, has Sean Hannity called yet?

    • #20
    • July 19, 2017 at 11:55 am
    • Like3 likes
  21. Profile photo of Captain Kidd Member

    Johnny Dubya (View Comment):
    Every morning, while I shower and shave, I listen to a podcast of the NBC Nightly News broadcast from the previous evening. This is mostly for entertainment purposes, to hear how biased, cheesy, and awful network news has become.

    The average broadcast basically goes like this:

    • Top story: Russia.
    • Trump’s tweets.
    • International incident.
    • Horrible crime.
    • Feel-good story.

    In particular, the feel-good story drives me batty. It’s not that I don’t like such stories. But every night? After commercials, the newscast runs about 22 minutes. They recently gave precious time to telling the story of a singing janitor.

    What a joke.

    Jon… Really?

    NBC?

    Here is a sad tale of a loss of innocence.

    In the early 1980’s I watched ABC news at 6 pm. The broadcaster was great. Honest and reliable. Then he died. Bummer. New guy, not so great.

    So I switched to NBC and Tom Brokaw. Good guy. Good broadcast. But wait.

    The New York City NBC honcho’s decided that every person who they happened to eat with at all the other NYC eateries (who were all there after all their NYC broadcasts) did not like President Ronald. So a change had to be made.

    Circa 1985 Tom said, “We have a duty to not just report the news but to promote change”.

    Wait. What?

    Where were you during J. Carter? Oh, he didn’t need advice I guess.

    So guess what? Every single change they proposed, every single one, was government centric. No personal responsibility. 14 year olds getting pregnant? (Maybe Dads and Moms staying together? NO!) More school sex where they practice putting condoms on cucumbers.

    Okay, maybe my wife and I liked that sort of thing…. I’m not judging you. Don’t judge me.

    But when I was in 7th grade, that would have been way too much info.

    So no more NBC for me.

    Bottom line. Fake news is all the rage right now.

    But It all happened 30 years ago.

    And I’ve been looking for real news ever since.

    Hear my plea… “Ricochet, don’t fail me now…”

    • #21
    • July 19, 2017 at 4:49 pm
    • Like4 likes
  22. Profile photo of Captain Kidd Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    From a straight-up selfish viewpoint, their business model may be in jeopardy from this discrepancy between what they are saying and what the public wants to hear about. My personal reasons for cancelling my newspaper subscription and looking at far fewer other news sources than I did in the past is their obsessions with topics I consider to be of low importance, and the obvious agenda that drove their article selections. How many other subscribers, readers, or viewers will stop subscribing/reading/viewing because they decide that the media is so out of step with the audience’s interests and priorities?

    Newspaper reader my whole life. Told my kids to subscribe. Loved the connection to the world. Hated Lou Grant as a person but loved his gruff style in reporting the news. Been a subscriber since my very early 20’s. Much earlier than most people. 40 year reader of 3 or 4 papers every day.

    Just cancelled my subscription.

    Told my kids to forget about an honest newspaper. This is the 1910’s and 1920’s where papers were as honest as Charles Ponzi.

    (Not very.)

    Honesty went out of style when America’s “honest newsman” (Walter Cronkite) thought he was better than the straight news (he wasn’t) and went rogue.

    Nobody will admit it but he was the worst thing to happen to news since William Randolph Hearst. Great beginning to his career, but seduced by the devil and he gave in to the easy apple of vanity.

    Gardens have been lost for much less.

    It’s time to place blame where it belongs. This biased news cycle was started by a guy who thought he was the God of TV. Then gave in to the Eve temptation of personal holiness.

    “I know things better than you know things.”

    As a newscaster, Why do you know more than we know?

    Either you are not doing your job, or you think you are smarter than we are.

    Either way, you are the problem here.

    But ever since, news-people think they are smarter than we are.

    Turns out I get better grades than every single one of my friends who ended up in the news business. So just report. Don’t preach.

    • #22
    • July 19, 2017 at 5:11 pm
    • Like1 like
  23. Profile photo of profdlp Inactive

    Got the Instapundit treatment today!

    • #23
    • July 20, 2017 at 9:01 pm
    • Like2 likes
  24. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Jon, has Sean Hannity called yet?

    I found out Fox News did a segment on the chart … but credited the Wall Street Journal. 🙁

    • #24
    • July 21, 2017 at 1:37 pm
    • Like1 like
  25. Profile photo of profdlp Inactive

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Jon, has Sean Hannity called yet?

    I found out Fox News did a segment on the chart … but credited the Wall Street Journal. 🙁

    Fake news! Sad!

    • #25
    • July 21, 2017 at 3:13 pm
    • Like1 like
  26. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Jon, has Sean Hannity called yet?

    I found out Fox News did a segment on the chart … but credited the Wall Street Journal. 🙁

    Well, that sucks. I was only half kidding, because that’s exactly the sort of thing that Hannity will build an entire segment around. It lets him slot in all his favorite memorized content.

    You should get an on air correction on that. The credit was right on the damn chart. If the WSJ removed that on a reprint or something, threaten them with a plagiarism suit. I hear that a $100 million threat can get result out of these networks.

    • #26
    • July 21, 2017 at 4:36 pm
    • Like1 like
  27. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member

    Sen. Chris Murphy is on the verge of a revelation!

    But if you read the replies, you’ll see that his constituents will make sure he never gets there.

    • #27
    • July 22, 2017 at 11:55 am
    • LikeLike