Before an orange-tinged carnival barker began waging a war with the news media and Russian troll farms began spewing misinformation across social media to help said carnival barker ascend to the White House, the quality of news probably ranked fairly low among the things most Americans typically worried about.
But a recent Pew Research poll revealed that half of Americans think that made-up news is a “very big problem in the country today” and that more Americans think fake news is a bigger problem than racism, climate change, illegal immigration, terrorism, and sexism.
Yes, that’s right: at a time when the number of hate crimes—fueled in part by the racist rhetoric of President Donald Trump—have increased three years in a row, many folks view fake news as a bigger issue, which makes sense if you consider many of those polled probably dismissed the hate-crime news as “fake.”
Not surprisingly, concerns about made-up news fall along partisan lines, with a strong majority (62 percent) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents reporting that fake news is a big problem compared to Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (40 percent).
And Republicans are more likely to blame journalists (58 percent) for creating fake news than Democrats (20 percent). But Republicans place a significant amount of blame (73 percent) on activist groups for fake news, almost twice the rate of Democrats (38 percent). Both sides (Democrats: 53 percent; Republicans: 63 percent) blame politicians and their staff for spreading fake news.
Interestingly, most Americans don’t blame journalists for creating fake news (about 36 percent do) but many (53 percent) do believe journalists are the most responsible for fixing it.
Which makes you wonder: Who do Americans think will fix a problem like racism?