Protests over police killings of Black people in the U.S. are continuing after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer over a month ago. New polls show a majority of Americans support the protests, but the type of media a person watches directly correlates with whether they view the protests as violent or peaceful.
In a new joint survey from Reuters and Ipsos, 58 percent of viewers who primarily watched FOX News saw the protests as violent compared to just 22 percent of viewers who primarily watched MSNBC. 56 percent of MSNBC viewers found the protests peaceful compared to just 15 percent of FOX News viewers. CNN saw similar numbers, while more traditional TV news on NBC, CBS and ABC were more split down the middle.
An analysis by Ipsos of more than 1,400 protests so far shows that approximately 84 percent have been completely peaceful. Overall, FOX News viewers were the only outliers when it came to a majority of Americans supporting the protests. 53 percent of Republicans who were surveyed that did not primarily watch FOX News saw the protests as somewhat or mostly violent, compared to 67 percent of Republicans who primarily watched FOX News. Similar numbers can be shown for Democrats and MSNBC when it comes to how peaceful people think the protests are.
Ultimately, partisanship and news consumption can be a dangerous combination – especially when it comes to public protests and pandemics. Other sources of news, including social media, can be even worse for dividing public opinion around issues that may otherwise have clear-cut answers.