Thinking MN Poll: Liberal media bias alive and well in Minnesota

A whopping two-thirds of Minnesotans say local reporters contribute to the toxicity of their state’s political discourse, according to the spring edition of the quarterly Thinking Minnesota poll, sponsored by Center of the American Experiment. A majority (52 percent) of respondents even believe reporters in Minnesota misrepresent the facts to fit their own narrative.

Respondents — regardless of political affiliation, age, or geographic location — believe the media bias cuts dramatically against conservatives. Almost half (49 percent) of the people surveyed believe that bias in the Minnesota media favors liberals and harms conservatives. Just 10 percent believe that Minnesota media favors conservatives and harms liberals. Thirty percent perceives no bias.

Majorities of Republicans (84-4 percent) and Independents (52-16 percent) believe in liberal bias. Remarkably, even a plurality of Democrats (18-14 percent) agrees with them. Of no surprise is the fact that a majority of Democrats (55 percent) see no bias.

“According to most Minnesotans, liberal media bias is alive and well in the land of 10,000 lakes,” said pollster Rob Autry, president of Meeting Street Insights. “After two years of defund the police, race riots and toxic politics, most say the state’s news media isn’t being Minnesota nice (or fair) to conservative and Republican viewpoints.”

Among individual media outlets, Minnesotans believe the Star Tribune exhibits the strongest bias, with 57 percent saying the newspaper is biased and only 24 percent saying it is not biased. WCCO-TV was a close second according to the poll, with 50 percent calling the news outlet biased and 33 percent answering not biased. The Pioneer Press, KARE 11 and FOX 9 scored better on the bias scale with respondents.

Most Minnesotans get their news via television or online resources, according to the poll. The top choice was television at 51 percent, followed closely by online sources at 48 percent. Thirty-three percent chose newspaper and 32 percent chose radio (respondents were allowed to choose more than one source).

TV news directors might be encouraged to learn from respondents that 35 percent watch a newscast every day and 23 percent watch a few times a week.

But a disturbing trend for television news emerges when the data is broken down by age. The audience for local television news is dying, perhaps literally. Of the 51 percent who said they turn to local TV news for information, 71 percent were older than 55. People in every other age bracket are much more likely to get their news from online sources than from television news. For example, only 26 percent of respondents in the 18-35 age range selected local news as a source of information, while 62 percent get their news from online sources such as Facebook.

When it comes to issues, 58 percent of respondents believe the Minnesota media does not present the issue of race in a fair manner. And 55 percent of Minnesotans believe the media does not present the issue of politics in a fair manner.

The poll discovered a fairly wide disconnect between Democrats and Republicans on these issues. Democrats were the driving force behind satisfaction with the coverage of race and politics. On race, 53 percent of Democrats felt the media coverage was fair. For politics, it was even stronger with 68 percent of Democrats claiming the coverage was fair. This was in stark contrast to Republicans, who are much more skeptical of how race and politics are covered in the Minnesota media. Only 16 percent of Republicans believe coverage of politics is fair and 18 percent believe coverage of race is fair.

The poll was conducted by Meeting Street Insights, a nationally recognized survey research operation based in Charleston, South Carolina. Using a mix of cell phones and landline phones, the company interviewed 500 registered voters across Minnesota from March 2-4, 2022. The margin of error is +-4.38 percent.