The Media Assault on American Values

A recent survey from the Culture and Media Institute finds that large majorities of every significant demographic category of American adults believe the media are harming the nation’s moral values. 

The major findings of the report are the following:

1. 74 percent of Americans believe the nation’s moral values have declined over the past twenty years, and large majorities hold the media responsible for contributing to that decline.

Americans believe the media influence values.64 percent of Americans agree the media are an important factor in shaping moral values in this country. Only 7 percent say the media are not important in shaping moral values.

Americans believe the media are harming moral values. 68 percent of Americans say the media have a negative impact on moral values in this country. Only 9 percent say the media impact is positive.

Americans overwhelmingly blame Hollywood for harming moral values. 73 percent of Americans say the entertainment industry is having a negative impact on moral values in this country. Only 7 percent say the entertainment industry is having a positive impact.

Most Americans blame the news media as well. 54 percent of Americans believe the news media have a negative impact on moral values in this country. Only 11 percent say the news media have a positive impact.

2. The media are undermining America’s sense of personal responsibility. The more a person watches television, the less likely he will be to accept responsibility for his own life and for his obligations to the people around him.

Acceptance of responsibility to provide for his own needs. 64 percent of heavy TV viewers believe the government should be responsible for providing retirement benefits to Americans, compared to only 43 percent of light TV viewers. 63 percent of heavy TV viewers prefer government health care to private health care, compared to only 43 percent of light TV viewers.

Acceptance of responsibility to support the needs of others by making charitable contributions or volunteering time. 56 percent of heavy TV viewers did not volunteer time to worthy causes last year, compared to 27 percent of light TV viewers. 24 percent of heavy TV viewers made no charitable contributions in the past year, compared to 11 percent of light TV viewers.

Acceptance of responsibility to respect the rights of others by practicing classical virtues like honesty, reliability and fairness. 31 percent of heavy TV viewers say they would cheat a restaurant by paying a bill that omitted some items. Only 19 percent of light TV viewers said they would cheat the restaurant.

Acceptance of responsibility to uphold high moral standards on social and sexual issues like divorce, sex outside of marriage, abortion and homosexuality. 52 percent of light TV viewers would limit the availability of divorce, compared to only 44 percent of heavy TV viewers. 51 percent of light TV viewers describe themselves as pro-life, compared to 37 percent of heavy TV viewers.

3. The media are undermining commitment to religion. The more a person watches television, the less likely he is to value religious principles and obedience to God. 47 percent of light TV viewers attend church or religious services at least once per week, compared to 28 percent of heavy TV viewers.

4. The media have a seductive effect. The more a person watches TV, the less likely he is to believe the media are influencing the nation’s moral values. 78 percent of light TV viewers believe the media are harming American moral values, but only 58 percent of heavy TV viewers agree.

 To read the full report click here.

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