Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Americans trust in US media drops to a new low

Only 32% of Americans trust the media to report the news fairly and accurately, while a record 39% do not trust the media at all, according to a Gallup poll published Friday.

The share of Americans who expressed some amount of trust in the media matches the record low the pollster recorded in 2016, while the previous record for total distrust was 38%. 

Even Democrats, who tend to have more confidence in the media than Republicans, have lost faith in the news over the last year to a significant degree – just 58% expressed some level of trust. This is a 12-point decline from 2022’s figures, attributed the diminishing trust among younger Democrats.

Only 11% of Republicans reported some confidence in the media establishment, according to Friday’s poll. However, the 47-point gap between respondents from the two major US political parties is the narrowest recorded since 2016, when Republicans’ trust in the establishment had fallen dramatically.

The survey sampled 1,016 Americans during the first two weeks of September. It is only the second time since Gallup began asking the question in 1972 that more Americans professed no confidence at all in the media than those who claimed to have a great deal or fair amount of trust. 

Even in the midst of the ‘fake news’ crisis during the 2016 presidential election, the Americans polled were more likely to say they had ‘not very much’ trust in the media (41%), rather than ‘none at all’ (27%). 

While between 68% and 72% of Americans expressed some amount of trust in the media when polled in the 1970s, that portion has declined significantly in recent years. Since 2005, when 44% of poll respondents expressed some confidence in the media establishment, fewer than half have told Gallup that they trusted the media to report the news fairly and accurately.

In July, a Gallup poll found just 18% of respondents had confidence in newspapers and just 16% in television news – lower than Big Tech or the banking industry (at 26% each). Only Congress (8%) and Big Business (14%) consistently ranked lower. 

Journalists’ ethical standards were rated as ‘low’ or ‘very low’ by 42% of respondents in a January poll – above car salesmen and telemarketers, but below lawyers and real estate agents. While the media establishment and the public relations firms that service it have been fretting about the public’s growing distrust in their industry for years, they have been unable to reverse the trend. 

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