Since when did “all the news that’s fit to print” become “all the fake news that’s fit to print”?
While it’s no secret that the media has an agenda, no other time has it been so pronounced as since President Donald Trump declared his candidacy. Coverage of Trump’s first 100 days in office was 90% negative – and 90% negative coverage has been the norm during his presidency.
The examples of blatant bias truly are endless. Can you imagine the media referring to ISIS’ leader an an “austere religious scholar” had any other president been responsible for his demise? Would some in the media have rooted for the recent attack at our embassy in Baghdad to become another Benghazi (which would’ve required innocent people dying) under any other president? And why didn’t the media spread hysteria about “kids in cages at the border” when virtually the same situation was present under the Obama administration?
For those in tune with the news cycle it’s easy to spot and expose these lies (and lies by omission) – but a new survey commissioned by Just Facts and conducted by Triton Polling & Research shows that for the average voter, that just isn’t the case. The survey quizzed readers on political knowledge – of which there was depressing lack of overall. To quote just a sampling of the questions and their responses:
- Question two asks: On average across the United States, how much do you think public schools spend per year to educate each classroom of students? Less or more than $150,000 per classroom per year? Correct Answer: More than $150,000. The average cost to educate a classroom of public school students is about $332,000 per year. In contrast to a drumbeat of media stories decrying education funding cuts, Department of Education data shows that the average inflation-adjusted spending per public school student has risen by more than three times since 1960. Correct answer given by 36% of all voters, 26% of Democrat voters, 45% of Trump voters, 46% of males, 28% of females, 25% of 18 to 34 year olds, 40% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 33% of 65+ year olds.
- Question six asks “On average, who would you say pays a greater portion of their income in federal taxes: The middle class or the upper 1% of income earners?” Correct Answer: The upper 1%. The Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. Treasury, and the Tax Policy Center have all documented that households in the top 1% of income pay an average effective federal tax rate of about 33%, while middle-income households pay about 13%. These tax rates account for nearly all income and federal taxes. Claims to the contrary—often voiced by politicians and the media—are based on misleading calculations that exclude large portions of people’s taxes and/or incomes. Correct answer given by 18% of all voters, 6% of Democrat voters, 30% of Trump voters, 21% of males, 15% of females, 11% of 18 to 34 year olds, 19% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 19% of 65+ year olds.
- Question twelve asks: …thinking about the whole planet, do you think the number and intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms have generally increased since the 1980s? Correct Answer: No. Comprehensive global data shows that the number and intensity of cyclones and hurricanes has been roughly level since the 1980s. This data was originally published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in 2011 and updated this year. Correct answer given by 32% of all voters, 4% of Democrat voters, 59% of Trump voters, 40% of males, 25% of females, 19% of 18 to 34 year olds, 36% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 30% of 65+ year olds.
- Question twenty-one asks: In 1960, governments paid for 24% of all healthcare costs in the U.S. Do you think governments now pay a greater portion or a lesser portion of all healthcare costs in the U.S.? Correct Answer: A greater portion. In 2017, governments paid for 49% of all healthcare expenses in the United States. Correct answer given by 57% of all voters, 42% of Democrat voters, 70% of Trump voters, 62% of males, 52% of females, 46% of 18 to 34 year olds, 57% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 59% of 65+ year olds.
Overall, “the rates at which voters gave the correct answers varied from a high of 46% for Trump voters to a low of 32% for Democrat voters.” Trump voters proved much more knowledgeable than the average Democrat in their responses – though clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement for everyone. It’s easily to see how certain themes in the media (underfunded schools, tax cuts for the rich, climate Armageddon, etc.) shaped responses.
You can give all twenty-four questions a read for yourself to see how you fare *here.*