In a recent survey SoonerPoll.com asked likely Oklahoma voters several questions concerning mainstream media and found that the majority, of respondents have negative perceptions of mainstream media.

The poll also found that some Oklahomans have differing opinions about what the mainstream media is.  When asked their overall perception of main-stream media, such as NBC, CBS, or ABC, 51.3 percent of respondents said they had a negative perception compared to only 37.2 percent with a positive perception. SoonerPoll.com asked also asked respondents secondary questions concerning CNN and FOX News Network’s coverage of the news and found varying results.

When asked about CNN’s coverage more people remain neutral however the percentage of positive perceptions mirrors mainstream media with 38.6 percent. However, when asked about FOX News Network’s coverage 56.7 percent of respondents have a positive perception.

The fact that CNN’s results mirror those of mainstream media is not altogether surprising, after all CNN is a subsidiary of Time Warner, the fourth largest media conglomerate in the world based on 2009 revenue reports.  FOX News Network seems to have avoided the mainstream media label although it is a subsidiary of News Corp, the third largest media conglomerate in the world.

“Voters are information seekers,” noted SoonerPoll vice-president Keith Gaddie. “And FOX pitches conservative content in a mainstream format. They are part of the MSM.  American politics has seen ideology and party come together in a coherent way, so voters look for what they want to hear. Because moderate and liberal voters moved more heavily to the internet for news than conservatives, it isn’t surprising to see FOX rank well, but not be called mainstream by many of those who view it on a regular basis.”

Complete Results and Analysis

With regards to party, FOX News Network received the most support from Republicans; 73.4 percent of Republicans have positive perceptions of FOX News Network compared to 46.9 percent of Independents and 43.8 percent of Democrats.

Inversely, Republicans led in negative perceptions of mainstream media; 70.7 percent of Republicans have negative perceptions of mainstream media, compared to 53.1 percent of Independents and 34.8 percent of Democrats.

Further analysis reveals that 76.3 percent of Republicans with negative opinions of the mainstream media have positive perceptions of FOX, while only 17.7 percent have positive perception of CNN.  Similarly, 41.5 percent of Democrats with negative opinions of the mainstream media have positive perceptions of FOX, compared to only 25.8 percent that have positive perceptions of CNN.

The figures are similar when broken down by political ideology, as 66.3 percent of self-proclaimed conservatives have negative opinions of the main stream media compared to 35 percent of moderates and 25.8 percent of liberals.

Among conservatives with negative perceptions of mainstream media, 74.6 percent have positive perceptions of FOX while only 18.4 percent have positive perceptions of CNN.  The same is true among liberals with negative perceptions of mainstream media, 37.5 percent have positive perceptions of FOX while only 25 percent have positive perceptions of CNN.

Other analysis revealed that those who consider themselves evangelical Christians are more likely to have negative perceptions of the mainstream media than non-evangelicals.

Talking to respondents one gets the sense that the words ‘mainstream media’ have become synonymous with the words ‘media bias,’ and refers more to the networks content and bias as opposed to its size and reach.   Doris Trotter, a poll respondent from Vian, Okla., was critical of mainstream media but had positive perceptions of Fox News Network. “I think that the mainstream media reports a lot, but when good things happen they don’t cover them like Fox does,” Trotter said. “Mainstream media tries to tell us what to think instead of letting us figure it out for ourselves.”

“I have a negative opinion of mainstream media, FOX News and CNN because they all deliver bias news,” Oma Waters, a poll respondent from Stratford, Okla., said. “The biases are not always the same but all news sources have a bias and I would like to see news treated like news and not opinion.”

Bonnie Englert, a poll respondent from Grove, Okla., disagrees, “I have a positive perception of all these news networks because they tell me the stories that I would not otherwise hear.”  Englert went on to say that she has never felt that these networks were bias and that she considers them all trustworthy.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s Public Opinion Pollster, commissioned and conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 503 likely voters from May 25 – June 8, 2010. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.4 percent.

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