Gallup: In general, Americans don’t trust the media; Repubs trust it even less

From a just-out Gallup poll:

“In general, how much trust and confidence do you have in the mass media — such as newspapers, T.V. and radio — when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately, and fairly — a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or none at all?”

Total national sample, portion saying

  • “A great deal” or “a fair amount”: 40. 
  • “Not very much/None at all:” 60

That’s a new record high for distrust in media, since Gallup started asking the question in 2001.

  • Among Democrats, portion saying “”a great deal” or “a fair amount:” 58
  • Among independents: 31
  • Among Republicans: 26

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/21/2012 - 09:26 am.

    It’s a very generic category, “media”.

    Do I trust Rupert Murdoch’s or Stanley Hubbard’s multi-media channels as much as I trust other sources that are not so openly conservative in their ownership and leaning? Should I?
    Or should I be skeptical and consult multiple sources on news that requires some amount of nuance to understand?

    It’s a silly question, and people who blithely have ‘trust and confidence” in media simply cannot be aware of how much the news in media of all categories is subtly spun and massaged long before it reaches the page or tube.

    I would be surprised if the “distrust” category does not continue to grow.

  2. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 09/21/2012 - 09:37 am.

    Amazed It’s That High

    I rarely watch TV news but when I do I’m constantly amazed at how awful it is. Most stories are simply too big to cover in three minutes. There is always context left out, even if the reporter is conscientious, which frankly isn’t often enough.
    Say, for years I’ve heard libs decry Fox news as propaganda. I don’t watch it so I don’t know how pervasive the propaganda is. I’m curious if those same libs are going after MSNBC now that it has left off any veneer of neutral objectivity. In other words, are Dems more trusting of the media because so much more of it agrees with them?

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/21/2012 - 01:05 pm.

      False premise

      I’m in agreement with your first paragraph, but not the second one.

      Since I rarely watch TV news beyond weather forecasts, making generalizations about it, aside from the notion that a serious story can’t really be thoroughly presented in 2 minutes, is difficult. From what little I’ve seen of it, I’m inclined to agree with critics of Fox News, but I’ve never watched MSNBC, so I’ve no idea whether it leans equally far in the other direction.

      I can’t speak for Democrats, since I’m not registered to either party, but the meme that “the media” lean heavily to the left doesn’t hold up, at least in my experience. While there are certainly reporters whose sympathies might lie with those in the middle and lower income groups, that doesn’t often come through in their on-air reporting, which is a part of how journalism is supposed to be conducted. However, most newspapers and TV stations in, say, the top 100 metropolitan statistical areas – PBS being the only notable exception of which I’m aware – are owned by private, for-profit corporations, many of them by fairly large corporations, and based on my limited viewing of Twin Cities TV news, I’ve seen little evidence that on-air anchors and writers, whether for the national outlets or the local ones, are willing to bite the corporate hand that feeds them.

  3. Submitted by Rich Crose on 09/21/2012 - 10:31 am.

    That’s a Moot Question

    There’s no such thing as mass media anymore.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/21/2012 - 12:16 pm.

    What the media lack–mass media, but especially internet news sources that are not solid newspapers in the first place, like the NY Times–is fact-checking in reportage.”

    Along with the really stupid and lazy media habit of including “balance” on everything, even if that thing is a proven fact that can only be “balanced” with ignorance or a lie, we have so-called reporters who simply repeat what’s given to them in a news conference handout or press release, not fact-checking any of it.

    Who would trust that? Why do we today have to wait for professional fact-checkers to cherry-pick which aspects of media incompetency will be corrected? Usually, these fact-checkers only attend to some egregious political “misstatement,” and don’t go after the reporters and the news source. We’re not getting a good press, good TV news. And internet aggregators like Huffington barely go beyond the bad or insufficient stuff they feed off.

    And, yes: Fox News is horrendously biased. I recently joined a gym for regular treadmill workouts. They have NBC, CNN, Fox News and ESPN on large TVs, running simultaneously. I have been appalled to see the difference in the way Fox “reports” the same news items. Whew.

  5. Submitted by Ginny Martin on 09/21/2012 - 01:10 pm.


    The mistrust of media is well earned. I sometimes watch the evening news (usually with the Mute button on) to get the weather, primarily. When I watch the regular news I am appalled. These stories aren’t news. The stories belong in some kind of metropolitan “this-and-that” or “accidents, murders, criminals [not the big financial ones, though], fires [all those flashing lights and brightly burning fires!], and human interest”–not news. Occasionally I see a fragment of news on one of the channels, but it’s about 30 seconds long and doesn’t give any context. The news program I watch mostly is PBS News and that gives much more, but I often noticed that some subjects are never raised, others have bad balances in interviewees which do not result in any new information, and the like. (I often email them with my complaints.) The one I find most trustworthy is BBC. I have often found more and more accurate news of the U.S. on BBC than many channels, including PBS. I remember watching an evening news program to get a result of an election or court decision or something and found it not on the local station but on BBC.

  6. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 09/21/2012 - 09:15 pm.

    Be careful how you use the word NEWS

    You have to be careful how you use the word News these days. Many who have News in their title should have the word News removed and replaced with the word Entertainment because some of it is fact less information not news. It is strictly entertainment for profit. Take Fox News, much of their stuff is done for sensationalism and profit. On the flip side Rush Limbaugh is presented as an entertainer but he is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. When republican politicians screw up that have to apologize to Rush. Rush is an entertainer who has not been elected to anything, but running the Republican Party. Nothing he presents is news or entertainment. You have to wonder if copyrights has gone by the wayside. You can read the exact same words on numerous places on the internet. Very few are putting any effort into actually digging out the news. It is no wonder the public has lost confidence in the media as most are working for themselves, not us.

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