Distrust of News Media Hits Record High
Fewer Americans trust the news
media than at any other time in recent history, according to a new Gallup poll. It found that 60% of respondents said they “have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully,
accurately, and fairly.” That compares to 40% who said they trust the news media a “great deal or fair amount.”
The proportion of Americans who said they distrust the news media -- including newspapers, TV and radio -- is up from 57% in 2010 and 52% in 2007, according to Gallup.
The proportion of Americans who say they trust the news media is down from
a high of 72% in the 1970s, when national news organizations burnished their credibility with reporting on Vietnam and Watergate.
Gallup also found that diverging views regarding the credibility of news media have a strongly partisan flavor, with Republicans and independents much more apt to express doubt than Democrats. Just 26% of Republicans and 31% of independents surveyed said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust in the news media, down from 38% for both groups in 2011. For Democrats, the percentage was 58% this year, up from 56% last year.
However, over the long term, all three groups have seen their trust in the news media decline to varying degrees.
In 2002, 52% of independents and 49% of Republicans said they had a great
deal or fair amount of trust in the news media, while the proportion of Democrats saying the same thing peaked at 70% in 2005. For Democrats and independents, the proportion expressing trust in the
news media has declined more or less steadily in subsequent years; interestingly, the proportion of Republicans expressing trust in the news media actually rebounded (temporarily) from a low of 27% in
2008 to 36% in 2009 and 38% in 2011 before sinking to an all-time low of 26% today.
During an election year, growing distrust in the news media has translated into less attention given to political news in particular: just 39% of those surveyed said they are paying close attention to political news this year, down from 43% in September 2008.
Despite their distrust of the news media, Republicans are actually more likely to pay close attention to news about national politics than Democrats, at 48% versus 39%; just 33% of independents said they were paying close attention to political news.
Gallup surveyed 1,017 U.S. adults from Sept. 6-9.