Media Relations Update
July 2, 2020
As the world faces a changing political, economic, and social landscape, ALZA Strategies is committed to keeping you in the loop on how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting public affairs. We hope you remain healthy and safe during these trying times.
COVID-19 News: Viewership, Partisan Lines, and Conspiracy Theories
After three months of stay at home orders, restrictions, and round-the-clock news coverage of COVID-19,  Americans report changes in their news viewership habits, understanding of coronavirus, and belief in conspiracy theories , according to a recent  report by the Pew Research Center
Heading into the fourth month of the crisis, news viewership declined among those that previously reported following COVID-19 coverage very closely by nearly 30%. As of June, only 39% report following coronavirus stories closely, compared with 57% in late March. Perceptions about trusted sources for information also solidified, with the  Center for Disease Control (CDC) ranking as the most accurate source of coronavirus information , and the White House ranking as the lowest. 
However, the split among those who  believe in the severity of the virus and trust corresponding news coverage falls along partisan lines . Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Republicans say that the extent of the outbreak has been exaggerated, compared with only 47% who held that view in late April. The number of Democrats who believe that information about the virus is overhyped only went up by 4%, from 14% to 18%.

Respondents also reported increased confusion about COVID-19 news coverage, saying that it’s steadily become more difficult to discern between accurate and inaccurate reporting and information. Republicans make up a greater share of those reporting confusion (47%), although close to one-third (31%) of Democrats also report confusion. 
Perhaps the most remarkable finding is that  more than one third of Americans report that they have heard conspiracy theories about COVID-19 , and roughly one-third report that they that they think those theories are “definitely” or “probably true.” Republicans and Democrats are equally as likely to report hearing about such conspiracy theories, but Republicans are far more likely to report that they believe they are true. 

Individuals who receive the majority of their news through social media channels report greater exposure to coronavirus conspiracy theories. And, Americans who rely on Donald Trump and the White House for coronavirus news coverage are more likely to say that the threat of and rate of COVID-19 infection has been exaggerated, and thus find it difficult to discern between truth and misinformation. Of those who rely on the White House and President Trump as their sources for information about COVID-19, 68% say that the virus “has been made a bigger deal than it really is.” These respondents also make up the majority of those who believe that coronavirus conspiracies are definitely or probably true (56%).
Roger Salazar, President | (916) 284-1255

Hilary McLean, Partner | (916) 203-7274