Results from a Gallup poll conducted in mid-September among 1,025 adults nationwide reveal unwanted news for the nation’s media outlets: Only four in 10 Americans say they have a great deal or a fair amount of trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.
The poll drew conclusions from a random sample and parallels recent Gallup polls which reveal a declining public trust in the judicial and legislative branches, as well as the government’s ability to administer to domestic issues effectively.
Among the more startling disclosures is the poll’s admission the age group 18–50 is the most skeptical of the media’s ability to deliver news truthfully or accurately. This sample’s trust in media rests at 36 percent.
Similarly, 32 percent of those surveyed who described themselves as Republicans trust the media, up from 27 percent one year ago.
While the results of this poll are not surprising, it is certainly a powerful indictment of traditional media for their incurious approach to disseminating news.
The poll also reflects a deep, durable distrust which transcends NBC fantasist Brian William’s fibbing about his exploits in Iraq, claiming he was in a helicopter forced down after being hit by an RPG and led to his banishment from the anchor desk at NBC.
Akin to William’s invention, Dan Rather’s Killian documents, a translucent attack on President Bush during the election of 2004, forced his exit from CBS; and, comparably, the Tailwind controversy, which drew to a close with a CNN retraction.
Rather’s transparent political casteism and inaccuracy spawned a short-lived but critical website, ratherbiased.com.
Unable to explain bias as shoddy research or the errors of subordinates, each example reflects a deliberate attempt to deceive the viewers.
Likewise, the volume of former Democratic operatives who have turned to media careers or the myriad of current media personalities who were revealed to have been donors to the Clinton Foundation do not serve to rehabilitate mass media’s tattered reputation.
This Gallup survey echoes a Pew Foundation study last December which revealed 70 percent of news seekers identified themselves as better informed because of the Internet.
Retreating to the Internet for news reflects the audience’s willingness to take a risk at obtaining news from a source which may be dubious, but no more unreliable than the talking heads who claim they are delivering news with balance.
Americans appear tolerant to the confrontational format television and cable news networks have provided the audience for years; correspondingly, they are amused to witness the childish competition between CNN and MSNBC and Fox News, but a majority do not trust networks to furnish news truthfully.
Gallup’s verdict is in: The standard of accuracy is noticeably absent here.
[Gallup] [CapitalCityProject.com] [CNN]