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How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?

Is the media actually biased to the left? Well, back in 1972 both party voters had similarly high trust in media (about 70-75% of respondents trusted). Trust among Dems stayed at that same level until 2020 when in dipped slightly to 58%. Republicans? They're trust level fell steadily over time to a dismal 10% in 2020 and has stayed there.


Whether or not the media is biased, it clear that Dems like mainstream media news more than GOP supporters.


How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?

December 2, 2023

By Bruno Venditti, Visual Capitalist

Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point in six years.



Gallup began its survey on media trust in 1972, repeating it in 1974 and 1976. After a long period, the public opinion firm restarted the polls in 1997 and has asked Americans about their confidence level in the mass media—newspapers, TV, and radio—almost every year since then.



The above graphic illustrates Gallup’s latest poll results, conducted in September 2023.


Americans’ Trust in Mass Media, 1972-2023

Americans’ confidence in the mass media has sharply declined over the last few decades.



In 2016, the number of respondents trusting media outlets fell below the tally of those who didn’t trust the media at all. This is the first time that has happened in the poll’s history.


That year was marked by sharp criticism of the media from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.


In 2017, the use of the term ‘fake news’ rose by 365% on social media, and the term was named the word of the year by dictionary publisher Collins.


The Lack of Faith in Institutions and Social Media

Although there’s no single reason to explain the decline of trust in the traditional media, some studies point to potential drivers.


According to Michael Schudson, a sociologist and historian of the news media and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, in the 1970s, faith in institutions like the White House or Congress began to decline, consequently impacting confidence in the media.


“That may have been a necessary corrective to a sense of complacency that had been creeping in—among the public and the news media—that allowed perhaps too much trust: we accepted President Eisenhower’s lies about the U-2 spy plane, President Kennedy’s lies about the ‘missile gap,’ President Johnson’s lies about the war in Vietnam, President Nixon’s lies about Watergate,”



More recently, the internet and social media have significantly changed how people consume media. The rise of platforms such as X/Twitter and Facebook have also disrupted the traditional media status quo.


Partisans’ Trust in Mass Media

Historically, Democrats have expressed more confidence in the media than Republicans.


Democrats’ trust, however, has fallen 12 points over the past year to 58%, compared with 11% among Republicans and 29% among independents.



How-Much-Do-Americans-Trust-the-Media


According to Gallup, Republicans’ low confidence in the media has little room to worsen, but Democrat confidence could still deteriorate and bring the overall national reading down further.


The poll also shows that young Democrats have less confidence in the media than older Democrats, while Republicans are less varied in their views by age group.



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