The Pew Research Center is out with a fascinating poll on “news fatigue.” The poll finds:
“Almost seven-in-10 Americans (68 percent) feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days, compared with only three-in-10 who say they like the amount of news they get,” according to the report. “The portion expressing feelings of information overload is in line with how Americans felt during the 2016 presidential election, when a majority expressed feelings of exhaustion from election coverage.”
On one hand, this is understandable given the constant drumbeat of scandal and outrage. On the other hand, no one forces Americans to watch or read the news. It is a choice whether to consume it or not, and judging from those stunning poll results (e.g. only 43 percent polled last year could name a single Supreme Court justice), many people do a fine job of being uninformed. Nevertheless, to the degree one attempts to be a diligent citizen, it seems to many that they are drinking out of the proverbial firehose.
Looking a little closer, we see an interesting phenomenon. Distaste for President Donald Trump — and perhaps glee at his failures — makes Democrats more eager to ingest as much news as they can.
“While majorities of both Republicans and Democrats express news fatigue, Republicans are feeling it more,” according the Pew’s findings. “Roughly three-quarters (77 percent) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents feel worn out over how much news there is, compared with about six-in-10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (61 percent). This elevated fatigue among Republicans tracks with them having less enthusiasm than Democrats for the 2018 elections.
The lack of interest in the news and in the election suggests that an outsize segment of Republicans don’t want to hear that much about, or take stock of, the president and Congress they elected.
Yes, we can sympathize that it is stressful to see someone you were warned not to vote for display just about every rotten trait you chose to overlook during the campaign (e.g. dishonesty, vulgarity, racism).
Just can’t hide
Ironically, the less-informed people feel the most overwhelmed, even if they don’t actually consume a whole lot of news. (“While a majority of those who follow the news most of the time (62 percent) are feeling worn out by the news, a substantially higher portion (78 percent) of those who less frequently get news say they are fatigued by the amount of it that they see.”) There may be a strong segment of the electorate that is trying to hide from the news — but just can’t.
The demographic groups that most strongly supported Trump are now the most exhausted by the news. “Some demographic groups — most notably white Americans — are more likely than others to feel exhausted by the news,” the poll finds. “Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of white Americans express fatigue with the amount of news, much higher than among both Hispanic (55 percent) and black Americans (55 percent). Women are also somewhat more likely than men to feel worn out (71 percent vs. 64 percent, respectively).”
There is some good news in this for the anti-Trump forces. It seems they are more energized (perhaps by a sense of vindication or by a desire to stop the Trump madness) than Republicans, who, gosh, just don’t seem to want to be reminded of what and whom they voted for. They are not “tired of winning.”
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a center-right perspective.