The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The GOP hates the ‘lamestream media’ even more than you think

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh (Associated Press)

When it comes to the outlets that the most conservative Americans get their news from, it's Fox News and everybody else.

And by everybody else, we mean mostly a bunch of other conservative-leaning media.

A new study from the Pew Research Center lays bare the increasing reliance on partisan and/or ideological news sources on the right and left, and both sides have trended in that direction. But when you compare the left to the right, it's clear which side is more interested in consuming news from sources with which it agrees politically.

Pew asked people which news sources they got their news from in the previous week. Among the most conservative Americans -- what Pew calls "consistent conservatives" -- five of the top six answers leaned to the right.

More than eight in 10 "consistent conservatives" said they had consumed news from Fox in the previous week (84 percent). Another 50 percent cited local news, while between 29 and 45 percent cited conservative commentators or their associated Web sites -- the radio shows of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and Beck's news site, The Blaze.

On the left, MSNBC doesn't carry near the same weight as Fox with "consistent liberals." Just 38 percent say they had consumed news from the liberal-leaning cable news outlet. These Americans have more mainstream tastes, consuming news from NPR (53 percent), CNN (52 percent), local TV (39 percent), NBC News and PBS (37 percent apiece), the BBC (34 percent), ABC News and the New York Times (33 percent apiece).

The only other outlet approaching the kind of ideological, commentator-driven news of the Hannitys, the Becks and the Limbaughs on the left is the Daily Show, which 34 percent of "consistent liberals" cited as a news source they had tapped in in the past week. And while the Daily Show certainly has a liberal-leaning point of view, its express purpose is entertainment -- not news.

Now, adherents of Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh will be the first to tell you that there's a very good reason for all of this, and that is that the mainstream media is liberal and favors liberals. It's no coincidence that Sarah Palin often refers to the "lamestream media."

Look at CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN -- even the Washington Post. The only more mainstream source that consistent conservatives trust more than they distrust is the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial board leans conservative.

Even if you grant the conservative objections to the mainstream media, though, it's clear the most conservative Americans are getting much more of their news from commentators rather than news-driven Web sites. Not even the Drudge Report or Breitbart -- news sites with a conservative worldview -- crack the top 10.

At the same time, this isn't true of all conservatives; the right's reliance on partisan media isn't nearly as pronounced when you get closer to the political middle. Among what Pew describes as "mostly conservative" Americans, only Fox and Hannity register in the top 10. Fox is still No. 1, but the the rest are comprised of more traditional, mainstream media outlets. Even MSNBC cracks the top 10, at 23 percent. (And for what it's worth, Fox cracks the top 10 among "mostly liberals," too.)

Clearly, though, there is a portion of the Republican Party -- the base, we would argue -- that consumes news from very different sources than the rest of America. And these are sources that other Americans (and the lamestream/mainstream media) tend not to understand or pay attention to.