Politics

Media’s Kavanaugh Coverage Was Biased, 45 Percent of Americans Say

New American Barometer poll shows the country is divided on whether the press reported on the controversy fairly

Image Credit: Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images

Forty-five percent of Americans believe the mainstream media’s coverage of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s (pictured above) turbulent confirmation hearings was “biased against” the nominee, according to the latest American Barometer poll.

“People don’t trust the media very much,” Molly Murphy, a Democratic pollster and partner at ALG Research, told The Hill’s Joe Concha Monday on “What America’s Thinking” of the survey, conducted by Hill.TV and HarrisX.

“I think that they tend to think that there is bias,” Murphy said. “I think it tells you this is an incredibly divisive topic.”

Only 35 percent of Americans surveyed believed the media covered Kavanaugh’s confirmation process neutrally, while 20 percent said the coverage was “biased in favor of Kavanaugh.”

The American Barometer poll was conducted October 6-7 and surveyed 1,000 registered voters.

The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh Saturday following a grueling process that became brutal during its last three weeks, after Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh publicly on September 16 of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago, during a high school gathering in Maryland.

Two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, also came forward with accusations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump’s nominee.

“We had a series of procedures to make sure that hearsay didn’t get on the air and that we were going to confirm it ourselves before we put it on the air. That’s completely been overtaken by events now with social media and other forms.”

Kavanaugh repeatedly and unequivocally denied all of the sexual assault allegations leveled against him. Both Kavanaugh and Ford testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and both their testimonies were widely viewed as credible and compelling.

Kavanaugh ultimately was confirmed 50-48 Saturday and sworn in later that day following an FBI review of the allegations, the seventh such background investigation he has undergone since he became a member of independent counsel Ken Starr’s Whitewater team in 1998.

Many media members seemed barely able to hide their consternation at the fact that Trump was able to nominate a second Supreme Court justice in the span of just a year and a half.

Mainstream media members and outlets faced criticism during Kavanaugh’s bitterly partisan confirmation process before and after the last-minute sexual assault allegations nearly derailed the process.

Even Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — the hyper-anti-Trump co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” — rebuked their peers for how readily they believed Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh and how little they did to disguise that.

“The media coverage of this has been so one-sided. It has been so biased. There has been the presumption from the very beginning that every single allegation made against the judge was true,” Scarborough said in early October.

“I have turned on all networks at all times, and Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of being a serial rapist by columnists in national newspapers, calling him a serial rapist,” Scarborough said, insisting that the media have “dropped the ball on this from the very beginning and they’ve been biased, they’ve been one-sided.”

“And they’re once again, just like with Trump being elected, going to be shocked by what they see in the polls,” Scarborough warned.

Brzezinski told ABC News’ “The View” co-hosts in late September, “What we have in the media right now is a trial and a conviction happening in the media.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) lashed out at the media during a press conference last week.

“This is almost rock bottom … And you folks can have something to do with this,” Grassley said to the media members.

Although CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter defended the media’s coverage of Kavanaugh’s confirmation process Sunday, former CNN Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno rebuked the media — including his former network.

Related: Media Applaud the Delay in Kavanaugh’s Final Confirmation Vote

“Do you think the press is coming out of this looking weaker because many people feel that the press chose a side through this?” Stelter asked Sesno.

Sesno replied, “Yes. Certainly, that’s the way it’s going to look to Trump supporters and to people who have been questioning media’s bias and their ability to report straight for a long time. We know where the public trust numbers are for the press, and it’s generally somewhere down below the basement.”

“The coverage has been unrelentingly negative,” Sesno added. “I was bureau chief here, you know, at CNN during the [Monica] Lewinsky thing. We had a series of procedures to make sure that hearsay didn’t get on the air and that we were going to confirm it ourselves before we put it on the air. That’s completely been overtaken by events now with social media and other forms.”

Sesno referred to the scandal surrounding former President Bill Clinton’s affair with the then-White House intern. Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation led to Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 by the Republican-led House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice charges. The Senate, also Republican-led, declined to convict Clinton.

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