This depressing Gallup Poll confirms what my own research has shown me. In the early 70’s the Right started a well-funded campaign to push the public to the right. Telling the public that the media are liberal is just one part of the strategy. You can trace the specific funders and organizations involved. See this and this [large PDF, html coming soon] and the How They Do It series.
In the Gallup story, scroll down to the chart that shows public perceptions of the media over time:
“Gallup first asked Americans about their trust and confidence in the media back in the 1970s, but stopped at that point and didn’t begin to use the question again until 1997.
There was a clear change in views of the media between these two periods of time. About 7 in 10 Americans said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the media in 1972, 1974, and 1976, perhaps reflecting public approval of the news media’s role in uncovering the Watergate abuses of power. When Gallup picked up the question series again six years ago, however, the trust levels had fallen to the mid-50% range.”
The Right’s campaign really got going in the early-mid 70’s, after the Heritage Foundation was started in 1973. It was well underway by the time Carter was President — reflected in his “Malaise Speech,” as I wrote about in this post. Looking back, the Right’s attacks explain a lot about how Carter’s presidency proceeded and is perceived now. Think about what is said about Carter, through the lens of knowing what they did to Clinton.
And think about the tremendous influence they now have on the public, 45% of whom think the media is “too liberal.”