Poll: Trust in Establishment Media Plunges to 2016 Record Low

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Confidence in establishment media to accurately report “news in a full, fair and accurate way” fell to the lowest level since 2016’s record low, a Gallup poll released Thursday revealed.

Only 32 percent of Americans said they trust the establishment media “a great deal” or “a fair amount” to report the news. The survey notched American trust in media a few points lower than in 2021 (36 percent) and 2022 (34 percent). Gallup reported:

Another 29% of U.S. adults have “not very much” trust, while a record-high 39% register “none at all.” This nearly four in 10 Americans who completely lack confidence in the media is the highest on record by one percentage point. It is 12 points higher than the 2016 reading, which came amid sharp criticism of the media from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump — making the current assessment of the media the grimmest in Gallup’s history. In 2016, U.S. adults were most likely to say they had “not very much” trust (41%).
Gallup first asked this question in 1972 and has tracked it nearly every year since 1997. Trust ranged from 68% to 72% in three readings in the 1970s, and though it had declined by the late 1990s, it remained at the majority level until 2004, when it fell to 44%. After rebounding slightly to 50% in 2005, it has not risen above 47% since.

The poll found that Democrats have more faith in the establishment media than Republicans, although the gap of 47 points collapsed to its narrowest since 2016. In one year, Democrats’ trust in media fell 12 points to 58 percent. Only 11 percent of Republicans trust the media, along with 29 percent of independents.

The gap between Republicans and Democrats became the largest from 2017 to 2022. During that time, Democrats trusted the media was above its trending average of 64 percent. Independent (44 percent) and Republican (33 percent) trust in the establishment media averaged below their trends.

The poll sampled 1,016 Americans from September 1-13, 2013, with a 4-point margin of error.

The poll comes just days after several establishment media outlets recklessly reported that an Israeli airstrike struck a hospital in Gaza, even though the outlets based the report on the Hamas-run “Gaza health ministry.” New York Times reporter Katie Robertson, who covers the media industry, wrote an 878-word article on Wednesday explaining why the paper twice revised the reckless claim, alleging the explosion highlights “the difficulties of reporting on a fast-moving war in which few journalists remain on the ground.”

Trust in the media is well documented. In February, Gallup found that 50 percent of Americans said the national media intend to mislead, misinform, and persuade the public, as just 35 percent say most news organizations could be relied upon. In addition, six out of ten Americans said the establishment media are to blame for misinformation, a May poll revealed.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.

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