Study Reveals Mainstream News Trust Waning As Political Fervor And Tribalism Surge

After years of tracking the relative trust regular viewers have in the TV news networks they watch, the major mainstream outlets are trending downward, while right-wing outlets are on the rise. That's the finding of the most recent semi-annual study conducted by brand researcher Brand Keys for MediaPost.

The analysis, based on Brand Keys proprietary methodology, represents surveys of more than 5,000 U.S. adults who are regular viewers (watching at least three times weekly) of each network, and it found that Fox News is ascendant, while MSNBC, the BBC, CNN, PBS, ABC, NBC and Bloomberg news programming are all waning in terms of perceived trust among regular viewers.

The most recent analysis, conducted this month, also is the first to rate right-wing news outlets OAN and Newsmax, and found they have perceived trust ratings as high or higher than any of the mainstream news outlets.



The study, which is also the first to ask regular viewers to characterize the political skews of each network, reveals that the greater the perceived political bias, the higher the perceived trust, regardless of whether they are left- or right-leaning.

Despite waning recently, MSNBC remains tied with Fox News as the most-trusted news network among regular viewers.

“Based on this wave’s incidence levels, news viewership appears to be down across all the brands,” says Brand Keys Founder and President Robert Passikoff, adding: “We hypothesize it’s ‘news burnout.’ Too much bad news for too long, too often so viewers tune out news channels.”

In terms of the correlation between perceived idealogical skew and perceived trust, Passikoff noted that those perceptions relate to conventional consumer brands, as well as media ones.

"This wave of research reveals viewer political fervor and tribal affiliation is directly linked to trust levels. It’s axiomatic that viewers’ regularly-watched news brands align with their personal world view," he concluded, adding, "The higher the emotional engagement with a brand, the more positive behavior people exhibit. That applies to products they buy and shows they watch.”

2 comments about "Study Reveals Mainstream News Trust Waning As Political Fervor And Tribalism Surge".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, February 16, 2022 at 5:53 p.m.

    In layman terms, the 'finding' is that no matter which news individuals choose to regulalry watch around 9 out of 10 will trust what they choose to watch irrespective of political leanings.   You trust what you choose.   The  longitudinal 'variances' over the three surveys are so small that trend is virtually indiscernable.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 16, 2022 at 6:47 p.m.

    Correct, John. What might be interesting would be an analysis that takes pairs or even trios of news sources and sees what their regular viewers think. For example, say, 10% of the respondents were regular viewers of CNN, MSNBC and Fox. Given that, how do these people rate each of the three in terms of trust. Are they all the same---or would such a group consider CNN more trustworthy than Fox---or the other way around. The same question might apply fox a combo that paired up CBS, ABC and Fox and also worth noting might be one for the three rightwing news outlets. How does Fox rate compared to OAN and Newsmax among regulars of all three sources?

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