A new poll by Gallup shows that overall trust in the mass media has bottomed out at its previous all-time low of 40%.
Prior to 2004, Americans placed more trust in mass media than they do now, with slim majorities saying they had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust. But over the course of former President George W. Bush’s re-election season, the level of trust fell significantly, from 54% in 2003 to 44% in 2004. Although trust levels rebounded to 50% in 2005, they have failed to reach a full majority since.
Americans’ trust in the media in recent years has dropped slightly in election years, including 2008, 2010, 2012, and again this year — only to edge its way back up again in the following odd-numbered years. Although the differences between the drops and the recoveries are not large, they suggest that something about national elections triggers skepticism about the accuracy of the news media’s reporting.
The fact that trust in the MSM dips in election years isn’t a surprise, and it says a lot about the media’s place in America’s electoral process. If only 40% of Americans trust what the media is saying, does the media play as big a role in swaying votes left as it once did? The midterms should be a good indicator of this, although I think “trust” has less to do with overall effect than does the constant bombardment (and and hero worship, in some cases) of one name over another.
Even Democrats are having trouble believing in the MSM, with their level of trust dipping to just over half at 54%. However, there has been a surprising uptick in Americans who believe that the MSM trends “too conservative”:
As has been the case historically, Americans are most likely to feel the news media are “too liberal” (44%) rather than “too conservative,” though this perceived liberal bias is now on the lower side of the trend. One in three (34%) say the media are “just about right” in terms of their coverage — down slightly from 37% last year.
Nearly one in five Americans (19%) say the media are too conservative, which is still relatively low, but the highest such percentage since 2006. This is up six points from 2013 — the sharpest increase in the percentage of Americans who feel the news skews too far right since Gallup began asking the question in 2001.
Is this a “Faux News” thing? Because if not, they’ve lost me.
Conservatives (70%) are far more likely than liberals (15%) to perceive the media as too liberal. Moderates’ views are closer to liberals, with 35% calling the media too liberal. Likewise, relatively few moderates — similar to conservatives — think the media are too conservative.
Democrats — with a small majority of 52% — are most likely to think the media are just about right, while a mere 18% of Republicans feel this way about the news. More than seven in 10 Republicans say the media are too liberal.
What this tells me is that a lot of Americans, in general, think that the MSM is mostly garbage and not to be trusted, no matter who is sitting in the chair.
Gallup pollsters predict an increase in trust in 2015, but also say that this small uptick won’t affect the general trend of eroding confidence in the product the MSM is selling. Whether or not this shift in trust will affect actual votes in the midterms and beyond remains to be seen, but if this trend continues, conservatives will need to invest more heavily in their own sources of news and commentary, and hold those sources accountable for the information they provide.DONATE
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