Americans would rather protect press than go after bias: poll

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A new poll shows that 34 percent of Americans say the courts should be able to fine media outlets that publish “biased or inaccurate” stories, while 28 percent agree that judges should be able to shut them down for the same reason.

Thirty-one percent said fining news outlets for publishing biased stories would not violate the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of the press, a YouGov/Economist poll released on Wednesday shows. Thirty-seven percent said such an action would violate the First Amendment while 32 percent said they weren’t sure.

As for shutting down news outlets that run “biased or inaccurate” stories, 25 percent said that wouldn’t be a violation of the Constitution, 45 percent said it would and 30 percent said they weren’t sure.

Asked what’s more important – protecting press freedom even if that means biased reporting is sometimes published or punishing biased or inaccurate news media even though that would lead to limits on the media – 46 percent opted for protecting the press, 29 percent chose punishing the press and 26 percent weren’t sure, the survey revealed.

On the question of allowing courts to shut down media outlets reporting “biased or inaccurate” news, 45 percent of Republicans agree, 18 percent of Democrats give it a thumbs up and 25 percent of independents approve, the poll says.

Broken down by party, those opposed include Democrats at 39 percent, Republicans at 20 percent and independents at 27 percent.

As for fining news outlets, 55 percent of Republicans agree, 23 percent of Democrats favor and 30 percent of independents agree. Twenty-five percent of Democrats are opposed, as are 12 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents.

The survey of 1,500 people, including 1,282 registered voters, was taken between July 23-25 and has a plus or minus 3.1 percentage point margin of error.