Americans’ Trust in Media Hits All-Time Low
Americans’ trust in major media outlets is at an all-time low, according to a new poll. Gallup released a survey Thursday showing that a combined total of 32% of Americans have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in mass media, while 29% have “not very much” trust in media, and a record 39% of Americans say they have no trust in media “at all.”
Those with no trust in the media “at all” is at an all-time high, while trust in the media has only once before reached a 32% low, back in 2016. Gallup has been tracking American’s trust in media since 1972 and described the latest results as “the grimmest in Gallup’s history.”
In comments to The Washington Stand, Tyler O’Neil, managing editor at The Daily Signal and author of “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” explained, “Conservatives have long observed the legacy media’s leftist tilt, but in recent years, so many outlets have become zealots for woke ideology. Even outlets like the Associated Press and Reuters, which often cite both sides in a story, routinely omit any disagreement with transgender ideology and climate alarmism. So much of the legacy media seems more focused on silencing dissent on certain topics or fitting everything into its narrative than on reporting the facts on the ground.”
JP Duffy, an editor at TWS who also serves as vice president of Communications at Family Research Council, remarked, “Gallup’s survey timeline helps explain what happened. It’s been 18 years since this Gallup survey reported half or more of Americans have held a ‘great deal or fair amount’ of trust and confidence in the media.”
He explained further, “In the Obama era, trust in the media began a precipitous drop and never recovered. President Obama sowed much of this division when he imposed policies that suppressed religious liberty as never before and used his bully pulpit to criticize those who ‘cling to guns or religion.’ The media cheered him on and even more so when he later endorsed redefining marriage.”
Melissa Mackenzie, author and publisher of The American Spectator, commented to TWS, “Trust in the media is at an all-time low because the media have become purveyors of dis- and misinformation. … They’ve repeatedly fomented emotional responses in the public by spreading lies about nearly every topic — health care with COVID, race relations, Biden’s foreign influence problems, and on and on. No one trusts the media because they’re liars. They deserve no trust and deserve the contempt of the American people.”
Surprisingly, trust in the media among Democrats is on the decline, having seen a 12-point drop in the last year alone and now sitting at only 58%, a low not seen since 2016 when trust sat at 51% among Democrats. Among Republicans, trust in the media sits at a paltry 11%. According to Gallup, Republicans’ trust in media hasn’t risen above 50% since 1998 and has drastically dropped since 2015. O’Neil commented, “Even Democrats who agree with much of this narrative have begun to see just how biased these news outlets truly are. Americans who find themselves politically homeless have turned to new sources of information…”
O’Neil also noted that as online news readership has largely declined over the past few months, conservative-leaning news outlets like The Daily Signal have “bucked that trend” and actually seen an increase in online traffic.
A Gallup poll conducted in June found that newspapers and television news were among the least-trusted institutions in the U.S. Only 18% of Americans trusted newspapers, down from 21% in 2021, and only 14% trusted television news, down from 16% in 2021. Both institutions reached all-time lows in 2022, with newspapers achieving only a 16% rating and television news 11%. Another Gallup survey published in January found that most Americans (42%) think journalists have low ethical standards, while only 23% said they have high ethical standards. Along partisan lines, 41% of Democrats put their trust in journalists’ ethics, compared to only 9% of Republicans.
Additionally, a survey released in February by Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that 89% of Americans say they believe mainstream news to be politically biased, compared to only 9% who said they don’t see “too much” political bias and only 2% who said they see no political bias “at all.” Additionally, 50% of Americans said they believe mainstream media outlets “intend to mislead, misinform, or persuade the public,” with only 25% saying they trust media not to have an agenda. A previous study determined that most Americans (76%) believe news outlets to be businesses and not public services and to prioritize “profit over public good.”
A 2017 study from the Reuters Institute at Oxford University found that the majority (67%) of those who don’t trust mainstream media cited bias or the influence of political agendas. Research published by the Pew Research Center in July of this year found that most journalists themselves approve of pushing political agendas, with 55% saying that “every side does not always deserve equal coverage in the news,” while 76% of the American public says that “journalists should always strive to give all sides equal coverage.” Among leftist journalists, a staggering 69% said “every side does not always deserve equal coverage,” compared to only 42% of journalists who “lean right.”
Addressing how mainstream media can regain Americans’ trust, O’Neil said, “If the legacy media wants to clean up its besotted reputation, it must take dissent from its preferred narratives seriously. It must acknowledge that there is good reason to doubt the benefits of sterilizing children in the name of gender, of spending tax dollars like a drunken sailor, and of eliminating the fossil fuels that enable a historic prosperity we too often take for granted.”
Mackenzie commented, “[C]onservative media sources like The American Spectator are down-ranked or suppressed and so true reporting and commentating isn’t even visible for news consumers looking via Google or other search engines. This has to stop.”
Duffy added that, since the Obama era, “the media has moved on to redefining more words and creating more false narratives about Christian conservatives. This has prompted believers to seek out alternative news outlets like The Washington Stand that are aligned with their biblical worldview rather than attacking it.”
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.