MSNBC Ascends In TV News Trust: Fox News, 'Trump' Plummet

Citing coverage of gun violence as their primary driver of trust in TV news brands, viewers rank MSNBC as their most-trusted TV news brand, according to an exclusive tracking study conducted by Brand Keys for Research Intelligencer.

The current findings -- the third in a series of twice-annual surveys of American TV news viewers -- show MSNBC jumping to an index of 94%, the highest of any TV news brand so far, and up 14 index points from its year ago level.

Conversely, Fox News has lost the most trust -- falling to an index of 82%, down from 87% a year ago.

The only other major TV news "brand" to falter more was a subject of TV news reporting -- the President -- whose TV news trust index has plummeted to 24%, down nine index points from his high of 33% in February.



9 comments about "MSNBC Ascends In TV News Trust: Fox News, 'Trump' Plummet".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 20, 2019 at 10:31 a.m.

    Joe, since MSNBC panders singlemindedly to the left while Fox does exactly the same thing only to the right their high indices among regular viewers are not surprising---for the most part, their fans agree with their rerspective political viewpoints--and "trust" them. What might be more revealing would be similar evaluations by those who have watched MSNBC and Fox but are not frequent viewers of either. I wonder how these middle-of-the-road news viewers, who probably lean more toward CNN and broadcast network  news, would rate MSNBC and Fox regarding "trust , relative to those channels they watch.

  2. David Mattson from Not Ordinary Media replied, August 20, 2019 at 1:59 p.m.

    Hi Ed, 

    I always enjoy your commentary a greeat deal. It is insightful and very valuable.  However, I take issue with describing MSNBC as pandering to a 'base.'  Yes, they don't sound like Fox News, but no, they are not a mouthpiece for any one candidate or organization (nra anyone?).  Lumping other news organizations into some kind of zero sum game with fox is not fair to them, and it obscures Fox's 25 year assult on objectivity, tolerance, civic decency and liberal-democratic (with a small d) values.  

  3. Kevin Killion from Stone House Systems, Inc., August 20, 2019 at 2:04 p.m.

    It's almost impossible to react to this without knowing much more about the survey.  How was each network's "who watch each regularly 3+ times weekly" determined?  Each what? *What* watching were they asked about: anything on the network 3+ times per week, or specifically news shows?  Also, is any distinction made between watching of purely opinion shows (e.g., Hannity) and programs that try to offer serious news (Bret Baier)?  Does watching "Star Trek" on BBC count as watching BBC for this survey? For that matter, just looking at today's BBC America schedule, where are BBC's news programs at all:  I don't see ANY scheduled today, which makes me wonder what this research firm is measuring. 

    Once we qualify just what is the base and what constitutes the item being measured, we need to think about sample sizes and item counts.  What portion of the overall sample of 3,972 qualified as watching (what?) 3+ times per week on Bloomberg? A dozen or two? So, a "trust index" change from 90 to 93 is due to what, one person? Yup, need to see the methodology to unravel this.

    Getting down to the findings, Ed Papazian has it exactly right that fans like what they are fans of.  95% of Ginger fans like Ginger, and 95% of Marianne fans like Marianne.

    The ABC/CBS/NBC numbers are interesting because they reveal a group of regular viewers who are NOT totally sold on what they are watching.  Is it pure habit that keeps them watching?  Or could it mean they are more critical thinkers about whether they trust all of what they see? If that is the case, is a LOWER number better if it suggests the viewers are more discriminating?  So many questions.

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 20, 2019 at 3:10 p.m.

    David, thanks for the kind words. But even the "opinion" folks at MSNBC will admit that they, too, are biased---in favor of the left. I recall when Obama tried to boycott Fox as not being a "legitimate" news organization, Rachael Maddow, to her credit, said that she, and I believe, MSNBC, were, indeed,  biased---just like Fox, but in the opposite direction--- while opposing Obama's move---which was quickly withdrawn. I recall watching her say just that in an interview about the threatened boycott of Fox News. I can't imagine any other explanation for the very high "trust" score that MSNBC attained in this study. It's the result of a calculated counterprogramming strategy that MSNBC developed to contend with Fox's smart right wing audience garnering ploy. And, thanks to Trump's behavior, MSNBC's primetime "opinion"  ratings have soared in the past three years.

  5. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, August 20, 2019 at 3:23 p.m.

    @Kevin Killion: "What" = TV news brands, which is what our article says. It's not about "Star Trek." Brand Keys is a recognized brand researcher. For more on their methodology, go here:

  6. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, August 20, 2019 at 6:07 p.m.

    Well said David! 
    For the record, based on comparisons of political Manifestos from other major countries (reported by the NY Times June 30th), I would remind everyone that the Dems and virtually by association MSNBC are a little left of the median and closely positioned along the "political center of gravity" with the Liberal Democrats in the UK and the Liberals in Canada.  Of note, neither of those parties in Canada or the UK would be called "socialists".  The Republicans (are there any left in Congress?) are significantly right of the median as distinct from the Party of Trump which is unequivocally further right along with the Trump  Network which embraces neo-fascism regularly.  So merely referencing"left" versus "right" is misleading. 
    As researchers we always have to be careful with our terminology, positioning and interpretation but even more assiduously in the political arena.  For example the difference between (white) nationalists and patriots in the US has become stark.  Charles De Gaulle reminded us that: “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”  Is it the far right or the slightly left that truely understands the value of the difference for the US, for humanity and for democracy?
    I suggest that Dr. Rachael and her outstanding network collegaues certainly do. And if that is "biased" - "bloody marvellous" as we say over the pond. 

  7. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, August 26, 2019 at 1:05 p.m.

    Thomas Jefferson wrote “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable
    for the proper functioning of a republic.”  
    If so, independent journalism
    is critical now more than ever.

    Kevin Killion is correct in observing that reflections based on a better knowledge
    of methodology would be more fruitful.  (Anyone wonder whether the survey dates
    impact the outcomes?)

    Even so, no one can seem to resist on commenting on the reported findings.
    So, here are my 2 cents.  While we are whipsawed between the scores of FOX News
    and MSNBC, I place my TRUST in the viewers that trust third-ranked PBS.  
    Other than the viewers of BBC News and MSNBC, the viewers of (presumably) 
    the PBS NewsHour seemed to have placed their confidence in a news source
    with distinctive qualities like balance, context and thoughtfulness.

    All things considered, it is probably better from a marketing perspective for a brand
    to obtain a sponsorship program from PBS National Sales, than to buy commercial
    rotation package through the Ad Sales Departmet of Fox News.

    Just a thought for the end of Summer...

  8. Kevin Killion from Stone House Systems, Inc., August 26, 2019 at 2:34 p.m.

    Joe Mandese said, ""What" = TV news brands, which is what our article says."

    The source line on the graph says "3,972 viewers who watch each regularly (3+ times weekly)".  I don't see anywhere in the linked methodology you supplied that clarifies WHAT exactly viewers are asked about viewing.  BBC America is the worst case, since there is little (if any!) news on that network.  So what do viewers have to view to qualify, and how are they evaluating trustworthiness?  With little or no news, then Star Trek DOES have to count as helping to tally viewers 3+ times per week.  Perhaps the survey is asking about some amorphous "BBC" entity, not BBC America.  What then is that?  A vague feeling that surely this famous if ill-defined "BBC" must be trustworthy, even though few Americans watch or have access to it?

    And we still don't have any actual counts for any if this, a problem I described in my earlier response.  Ironic that it's hard to have trust in this survey without knowing more about it.

    So it remains, what exactly is being measured here?

  9. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, August 26, 2019 at 3:51 p.m.

    @Kevin Killion: The viewers were asked to rate the network TV news brands they watched regularly. I've asked Brand Keys if they can provide the explicit questions that were asked.

    I think you're confusing BBC America with BBC World News, which is not amorphous BBC entity, but is a 24-hour international news network available in 200 countries, including the U.S.:

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