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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