Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Tensions mount between Biden, news media

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In todays email:

  • Featured story: White House pushes back against media questions over Biden’s mental fitness
  • In other news: Veteran reporter files disability lawsuit against WSJ
  • Looking ahead: Pulitzer-winning reporter at risk of jail time after exposing Mississippi’s welfare scandal
  • Chart of the week: Attention to news about the 2024 presidential campaign

🔥 Featured story

President Joe Biden will hold a press conference at the NATO summit in Washington this afternoon, amid heightened tensions between the White House and the news media. Reporters have noted a lack of transparency and access from the administration as the president faces concerns about his age and mental sharpness, while the White House reportedly feels that journalists are too fixated on the issue. Meanwhile, others have wondered whether the press should have been focused on this story sooner.

U.S. journalists are more likely than Americans as a whole to say that news organizations do a good job at serving as a watchdog over elected leaders. About half of journalists (52%) said in a 2022 Center survey that news organizations do a very or somewhat good job at this, while about three-in-ten U.S. adults (29%) said the same that year. Americans in general were more likely to say journalists do a very or somewhat bad job at serving a watchdog role (44%).

📌 In other news

📅 Looking ahead

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Anna Wolfe, who exposed Mississippi’s welfare fraud scandal, may face jail time following a defamation lawsuit by the state’s former governor. A court order requires the investigative reporter and her editor to reveal confidential sources from their investigation, but the journalists have declined to do so.

A large majority of Americans see press freedoms as highly important to the well-being of society, according to a 2024 Pew Research Center survey. However, many express concerns about potential restrictions on press freedoms – 67% say the media are not completely free to report the news in the U.S. 

In another Center survey of nearly 12,000 working U.S.-based journalists conducted in 2022, eight-in-ten journalists said they are at least somewhat concerned about potential restrictions on press freedoms in the U.S., including 57% who are extremely or very concerned.

📊 Chart of the week

This week’s chart, from a new Center report about Americans’ views toward the 2024 presidential election, looks at how closely voters are following news about the election compared with this time in previous cycles.

A third of registered voters say they’re currently following election news very closely. By comparison, fewer were following election news very closely at about this point in the 2020 campaign (27% in June 2020), but more were doing so in 2016 (41% in July 2016).

👋 That’s all for this week. 

The Briefing is compiled by Pew Research Center staff, including Naomi Forman-Katz, Jacob Liedke, Sarah Naseer, Christopher St. Aubin, Luxuan Wang and Emily Tomasik. It is edited by Katerina Eva Matsa, Michael Lipka and Mark Jurkowitz, and copy edited by Anna Jackson.

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