Only 3.4% of Journalists Are Republican: Study
A survey has found that only 3.4% of American journalists identify as Republican, compared to 36.4% who identify as Democrat and 51.7% as Independent. The survey also indicated a steep decline in the number of Republican journalists over the last several decades, which has coincided with record high levels of Americans saying they do not trust the media.
The Syracuse University study was first conducted in 1971 and was repeated roughly every 10 years thereafter. The first survey found that 25.7% of journalists said they were Republican. In 1982, the number plunged to 18.8%, and in 1992 it further fell to 16.4%. In 2002, the number of Republican journalists increased slightly to 18%. But by 2013, the number nosedived to 7.1%, and even this low number was cut in half by 2022 at 3.4%.
Notably, the massive decline in journalists who identify as Republican has occurred even while the number of Americans who say they are Republican has remained relatively consistent. From 2004 until now, Gallup has found that roughly 30% of Americans consider themselves Republican, with roughly the same number identifying as Democrats and around 40% saying they are Independent.
The marked decline in Republican journalists comes as a record number of Americans say they don’t trust the media. Last October, Gallup found that a record high 39% of Americans say they have no trust in the media. A few months prior, a Rasmussen Reports poll found that 58% of voters think that “bias in the news media is getting worse,” with only 13% saying the issue is “getting better.” The poll also found a stark difference between the views of Republicans and Democrats, with 68% of GOP voters saying that bias is worsening, while only 42% of Democrats saying the same.
The American public’s trust of the media has in fact reached such a low level that at least half say that national news organizations are intentionally attempting to mislead, according to a Gallup/Knight Foundation poll released last February.
“I think it’s difficult to say that most people in the media are intentionally trying to deceive, but it’s understandable why people feel that way,” Jared Bridges, editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand, told TWS. “I’m sure there are outliers who are trying to deceive. But I think that the worldview that most journalists are steeped in sets them up to begin on faulty foundations.”
Meanwhile, the personal political leanings of staff at some media outlets that have historically been conservative appear to be affecting their content. In October, it was reported that between 2015 and 2022, nine staff members at Christianity Today made 73 political donations that all went to Democrats. Commentators have observed that CT, which was founded by Billy Graham in 1956, has been moving in a leftward direction for a number of years. “The fact that modern CT staff have financially supported pro-abortion, pro-sexual perversion candidates does not surprise me at all,” Tom Ascol, who serves as president of Founders Ministries, told The Daily Wire. “The magazine long ago lost its biblical moorings and has been under the influence of progressives and leftists for years. It’s tragic. And it’s a reminder to evangelicals that institutions that faithful Christians build are always in danger of drifting left.”
As for the obvious lopsided Democratic affiliations of journalists in the mainstream media, Bridges contended that the imbalance is bound to have far-reaching ramifications for public trust and even-handedness in reporting.
“So you have thousands of reporters working in a journalistic house built upon sand that shifts with whichever cultural wind is blowing the strongest,” he emphasized. “A lack of Republican (and presumably conservative) journalists certainly plays a part in an atmosphere of distrust, and when you have an institution that has no room for an alternate worldview, it’s a recipe for one-sided bias.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.