Stark media divergence for US conservatives, liberals: poll

Stark media divergence for US conservatives, liberals: poll

WASHINGTON - American conservatives are far less trusting of media and more reliant on a single news source than their liberal counterparts, according to a study released Tuesday highlighting increased US political polarisation.

Liberals engage in more discussions with people who have broader outlooks on the subject, while conservatives are more likely to have like-minded friends on social media, the Pew Research Center said in its poll, one of several recent studies reinforcing the notion that an ideological divide is cleaving voters in the United States.

"The differences between the media habits of liberals and conservatives - and between those in the ideological ends and the middle - is striking," said Amy Mitchell, Pew's director of journalism research.

While there is little overlap in the news sources that the opposed ideological sides turn to and trust, "this report also shows that it's difficult for anyone to live in an information silo," she added.

"Whether they are looking for it or not, most people today are exposed to political views that differ from their own." The results were published two weeks before Americans head to the polls for mid-term elections, with an increasing focus on candidates in battleground states and the media coverage of such races.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are at stake, as are 36 of the Senate's 100 seats.

Conservatives are heavily reliant on Fox News, with 47 per cent of them citing the broadcaster as their main source for news on government and politics, Pew found.

That compares with less unified news gathering by liberals, who turn to a broad array of sources, the most popular of which are CNN with 15 per cent claiming it as their main news source, National Public Radio (13 per cent), MSNBC (12) and The New York Times (10).

CNN and Fox are also widely cited as main news sources for the substantial number of respondents with mixed ideological views. Local news stations span the ideological divide and are among the most consumed news sources.

Liberals appeared more willing to believe news across various outlets. Consistent conservatives distrust 24 of 36 news sources listed by Pew, while liberals trust 28 of the 36.

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