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Americans Blame the Media for Dividing Country

A new survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights reveals that nearly three-quarters of US adults believe that the news media is increasing political polarization in the country.

The survey also shows that almost half of Americans say they have little to no trust in the media's ability to report the news fairly and accurately. This breakdown in trust has caused some Americans to turn to social media and unreliable websites for their news, which has worsened polarization.

Concern about misinformation is shared by Americans of both parties, with about nine in 10 US adults saying it is a problem. Social media plays a key role, with nearly two-thirds of the 1,002 survey participants saying that when they see a news story on social media, they expect it to be inaccurate. Many are also concerned about growing threats to journalists' safety, with about a third saying they're very concerned or extremely concerned about attacks on the press.

While a small majority of Americans say they have some level of confidence in the news media's ability to report the news fully and fairly, only 16% say they are very confident. Forty-five percent say they have little to no confidence at all.

Partisan cable news stations and social media sites have worsened polarization by encouraging many Americans to see one another as enemies. Republican voter Joe Salegna, who lives on Long Island, New York, says that "since the 2016 election, I think it's gotten a lot worse."

"We should be concerned for the health of democracy," says Joshua Tucker, a political scientist at New York University.


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