Poll: Twice as Many Republicans Believe Media Coverage “Exaggerating” Coronavirus Threat is Harmful

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According to a new poll of nearly 1,700 adults from Gallup and the Knight Foundation, found that 68 percent of Republicans “strongly agree” that it is harmful for the media to exaggerate the threat of the novel coronavirus. The number of Democrats, by comparison, is 34 percent.

Additionally, 77 percent of the survey’s respondents feel the “news media should cover statements or actions from officials that contributed to making the crisis worse” immediately compared to 11 percent who believe the media should wait until “the worst of the crisis is over” before covering that information.

Moreover, 72 percent strongly agree (40 percent) or agree (32 percent) that the harm from the coronavirus is “worse than necessary.” The poll notes that “percentages of party groups who agree range from 68% to 76%, with strong agreement similar among Democrats, independents and Republicans.”

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“Americans have been more likely to disapprove than approve of the news media’s response to the coronavirus situation at a time when most other institutions’ responses have been rated more positively than negatively,” Gallup and Knight said in a statement. “This may indicate that people do not see the media as getting coronavirus coverage quite right — either drifting too far in the direction of downplaying the threat or too far in the direction of exaggerating it. The public recognizes the stakes are higher in coronavirus coverage, likely more than for other issues, given the pandemic’s impact on public health, the U.S. economy and Americans’ wellbeing.”