Trust Issues

"Americans' trust and confidence in the mass media 'to report the news fully, accurately and fairly' has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32 percent saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media," Gallup reported on September 14, 2016 ("Americans' Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low"). Among Republicans, the number is 14 percent.

Subsequent polls [updates provided below] also have found that many Americans—especially Republicans—are wary of the press.
  • Only 27 percent of Americans say they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in newspapers, Gallup reported on June 28, 2017. Among Republicans, the number is 13 percent.
  • In June 2017, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that Americans trust the Trump administration more than they trust the media.
  • An August 30, 2017, Fox News poll asked Americans: "Who do you think poses a greater threat to the United States—white supremacists or the news media?" While 47 percent of registered voters said white supremacists are a greater threat, 40 percent said the news media are a greater threat and 9 percent said both pose the same threat.
  • “Just over a third of Americans (37 percent) in 2017 say news organizations generally get the facts straight,” Gallup reported on August 25, 2017. Respondents were asked: “In general, do you think [ROTATED: news organizations get the facts straight, (or do you think) news organization’s stories and reports are often inaccurate]?” While 62 percent of Democrats believe news media get the facts straight, only 14 percent of Republicans believe so.
  • An October 2017 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 48 percent of adults surveyed say they have a "great deal" or "some" confidence in the press, while 45 percent say they have "hardly any" confidence in the press.
  • An October 2017 Marist poll asked Americans: "Who do you trust more: your favorite news source or Donald Trump?" Incredibly, despite Trump's untrustworthiness, by a nearly two-to-one margin (61 percent to 31 percent) Republicans say they trust Donald Trump more. (And keep in mind, we're talking about these Republicans' favorite news source—not CNN or The New York Times.)
  • In October 2017 the executive editor of The New York Times told his reporters that if they are perceived as biased on social media, "that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom." No lie. Reporters in Oklahoma newsrooms should take note.
  • A November 2017 PragerU video explains "why no one trusts the mainstream media."
  • Bethany Mandel says it's the media's fault that 71 percent of Roy Moore voters don't believe the allegations against him.
  • Repairing media mistrust means understanding that "the problem did not appear in 2015 when a real estate magnate descended an escalator," Mary Katharine Ham writes. "The descent began decades ago."
  • A January 2018 Pew Research Center study finds that only 21 percent of Americans who identify with the Republican Party say news organizations are doing well at reporting different positions on political issues fairly.
  • A March 2018 Quinnipiac University national poll finds that 91 percent of Republican voters disapprove of the way the news media have covered President Trump, while only 6 percent approve. At the same time, fully 77 percent of Republican voters approve of the way Trump talks about the media, while only 18 percent disapprove.
  • An April 2018 Quinnipiac University national poll asked: "Who do you trust more to tell you the truth about important issues: President Trump or the news media?" Democrats (90 percent to 4 percent) trust the media more; Republicans (81 percent to 13 percent) trust Trump more.
  • April 2018 data from Pew tell us that "58 percent of Democrats and just 16 percent of Republicans are confident in the news media to act in the public interest."
  • A May 2018 Cor Strategies poll finds that two in three Oklahoma Democrats say they trust the media “a great deal” or “a good amount.” Meanwhile, nearly three in four Oklahoma Republicans say they trust the news media “not at all” or “not very much.”
  • "Nearly all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (92%) say that traditional news outlets knowingly report false or misleading stories at least sometimes, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll," Axios media reporter Sara Fischer writes. "The data shows that trust in the media is heavily influenced by partisan politics, with Republicans more skeptical of mainstream media than their Democratic and Independent counterparts. Other studies from Gallup and Pew Research Center have drawn similar conclusions."
  • "Americans have ample reason to distrust the news they read," Jason Richwine observes. The media whip up hysteria, regurgitate misleading factoids, disguise opinions as “fact checks,” build self-serving narratives, declare false consensus, generate clickbait headlines, neglect basic research, enforce double standards, manipulate terminology, ooze sanctimony, destroy reputations ... need I go on? Not shockingly, all of this misbehavior by journalists seems aimed at validating their own worldview. If the media really wanted to restore its credibility with middle America, journalists would make an effort to broaden their perspective, to give us some reason to think they’ve reduced their bias." 
  • An October 2018 POLITICO/Morning Consult poll "shows a majority of voters think that President Donald Trump has done more to divide the country than unite it since he took office last year—but that the national news media are even worse." 
  • "In the opinion of this recently retired 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, the national media itself is largely to blame for the erosion of trust in the media," longtime Tulsa World journalist Bill Sherman writes on January 6, 2019. "The media have traditionally been tough on presidents (especially Republicans) and that’s OK; it’s their job. But the 24/7 flood of anti-Trump vitriol on the national media is unprecedented."
  • Trust is still a problem, the editors of Columbia Journalism Review despair in the winter 2019 issue. It's a bigger problem among Republicans. Only 10 percent of Republicans believe the media doesn't have a partisan bias.
  • "When Trump blasts the mainstream media as the 'enemy of the people' and dismisses their 'objective' reporting as fake news, journalists are outraged," Les Sillars writes for First Things. "When they read the polling numbers, I’m sure they’re flabbergasted that large portions of the country nod in agreement."
  • On April 28, 2019, pollster Scott Rasmussen summed up the results of a recent survey thusly: voters see journalists as a "political activist, not as a source of information."
  • A Rand study published in May 2019 "finds that the news media have become more subjective and opinionated over the past 30 years," Rich Noyes writes, "and suggests the shift away from fact-based reporting has contributed to the public’s growing distrust of the news media."
  • A May 2019 report funded by The Knight Foundation finds that college students—especially conservative ones—don't have much confidence in the media to report the news accurately.
  • An August 2019 Rasmussen survey found that "distrust of political news reporting remains at a record high, with just over half of voters now convinced that most in the media are out to get President Trump."
  • A September 2019 Gallup poll found that 69 percent of Democrats have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the news media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly—while only 15 percent of Republicans do. Meanwhile, 85 percent of Republicans trust the news media “not very much” or “none at all.”
  • A September 2019 Rasmussen survey found that voters are madder at the media than at Trump or his foes. 
  • A December 2019 Pew Research Center study found that 91 percent of highly politically aware Democrats and Democratic leaners "have a great deal/fair amount of confidence that journalists will act in the best interests of the public." By contrast, 16 percent of highly politically aware Republicans and Republican leaners have that confidence.
  • A Gallup survey conducted March 17-29, 2020, found that 34% of Americans currently hold a very favorable or somewhat favorable view of the media. Among Democrats it's 62%, while among Republicans it's 10%.
  • Seventy-one percent of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of the news media, according to an August 2020 report from Gallup and the Knight Foundation. "Across all measures, Republicans express more negative sentiments about the media than do Democrats and independents."
  • A September 2020 Gallup survey finds that only 10% of Republicans trust the media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, 73% of Democrats trust the media.
  • Just 29% of people surveyed in the U.S. said they trust the news, according to a Reuters Institute report released in June 2021. The U.S. ranks last among 46 countries in trust in media.
  • A June 2021 Amber Integrated survey asked Oklahoma voters: “Which of the following do you believe is the greatest threat to American democracy?” The top answers were “media or social media companies” (24.85%) and “liberal or left-wing extremists” (21.73%), followed by “rival foreign nations, like China and Russia” (21.63%).
  • A July 2021 Rasmussen survey finds that 58% of likely U.S. voters agree that the media are “truly the enemy of the people,” while 36% don’t agree.
  • A November 2021 Rasmussen survey finds that only 33% of likely voters say they trust the political news they’re getting.
  • A December 2021 Trafalgar survey finds that 90.3% of Republican voters believe "the primary focus of the mainstream media’s coverage of current events" is "advancing their own opinions or political agendas." Only 9.7% of Republicans believe the media's primary focus is "finding and reporting the facts."
  • A May 2022 Rasmussen survey finds that 58% of likely U.S. voters agree that the media are “truly the enemy of the people.”

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