Media study: Americans trust the Brits and liberals like to be agreed with

Posted at 4:46 PM, Oct 22, 2014

The media mavens at the Pew Research Center have put out a big new report on “Political Polarization & Media Habits.”

Most of the findings are what you would expect, though still interesting. Hardcore liberalS and conservatives pretty much inhabit different news worlds. The conservative planet revolves around Fox News while the liberal one has several suns – led by CNN, NPR, MSNBC and The New York Times.

Two specific findings especially amused me.

It turns out that when it comes to news, Americans trust Brits the most.  Take a look:

Trust Levels of News Sources by Ideological Group

I can offer three theories for this.
  1. The grass is always greener on the other side of the ocean. We so distrust our own media – and our public institutions – that we assume English news is better. It’s all about the accent - It just sounds so clever. 
  2. Ignorance.  Having spent two years working for the BBC, my experience is people think they love BBC News but almost never watch it, listen to it or read it.  They like the idea of it. Same with The Economist. In Britain, the BBC is plagued by accusations of liberal bias that make the charges against NPR and the New York Times seem pallid. And The Economist is viewed as a right-wing capitalist apologist by roughly half the population.
  3. The BBC and The Economist actually are better than their American rivals. We are right to trust them more.

Number 3 gets my vote.

The other factoid I found most interesting is that liberals are more likely than conservatives to dump friends because they differ on politics.  

Consistent Conservatives See More Facebook Posts in Line With Their Views; Consistent Liberals More Likely to Block Others Because of Politics

This is also true online. On Facebook, 44 percent of liberals blocked or de-friended someone because of politics; 31 percent of conservatives gave pals the axe because of politics.
Why would that be? I have my theories, but I don’t want to lose any more friends than I already have writing about this stuff.