Media Diet Informs Take on Trump Impeachment, Pew Reports

(CN) — You are what you eat, and those who subsist on Fox News tend to deny that President Donald Trump withheld Ukraine aid for corrupt purposes, a report published Friday from the Pew Research Center shows.

With Trump accused of working to bolster his 2020 re-election campaign by withholding $391 million in military aid from Ukraine, Pew undertook the study of more than 12,000 Americans from October to November 2019 to elucidate the partisan tendencies of media consumption, as well as a growing Republican mistrust of the media during the Trump administration.

Democrats express more trust of most news sources asked about; Republicans express more distrust

The findings show that approximately two-thirds of Republicans who got their political news only from media outlets with conservative, right-leaning audiences said that Trump withheld the aid to advance a U.S. policy to reduce corruption in Ukraine.

Just 10% of these Republicans surveyed said they believed that Trump did it to help his re-election campaign; 23% said they weren’t sure.

Meanwhile, Democrats who said they got news from outlets that appeal to liberal-leaning audiences or a mixed audience overwhelmingly told Pew that they believed Trump was acting in self-interest.

About half of Democrats who did not get political news from any outlets with left-leaning audiences but did get news from outlets with mixed or right-leaning audiences said Trump withheld aid to help his campaign, while 41% said they weren’t sure of his motives and 7% said it was to reduce corruption.

In addition to views about Trump’s motives, the Pew study also surveyed how much people had heard about certain Ukraine storylines that included Trump: his decision to withhold aid, his decision to ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the whistleblower’s report.

About half of Republicans who got their political news only from outlets with right-leaning audiences had heard a lot about the efforts of former Vice President Joe Biden to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor in 2016, more than double the percentage of Democrats who who heard a lot about the Biden narrative exclusively from outlets with left-leaning audiences (20%).

The partisan gap is analogous with the narrative about the work Biden’s son Hunter performed in Ukraine: 64% of these Republicans had heard a lot, compared with 33% of these Democrats.

In their survey of general attitudes toward the news media, Pew found that Republicans have grown more alienated from many established news sources as compared with a similar study conducted in 2014.

Among Democrats, Pew found that confidence in the media has been more stable, and in some cases has increased in the Trump era.

Three-quarters of conservative Republicans say they trust Fox News, and two-thirds distrust CNN, Pew reported.

These numbers practically invert among liberal Democrats, where 70% told Pew they trust CNN and 77% don’t trust what they see on Fox News.

Pew’s election research observed a “notable growth” in Republicans’ distrust of CNN, The New York Times and Washington Post since its 2014 study. Those three outlets have been subject to frequent attacks by Trump.
The polling was released as part of Pew’s Election News Pathways, the research center’s ongoing initiative focusing on Americans’ news habits and attitudes related to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The margin of error is plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.

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