Americans do not trust the media anymore.
A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ trust in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” has sunk to an all-time low. Only 32 percent of Americans place a great deal to a fair amount of trust in the media, marking a sharp eight percentage point decline since only last year, when at least four in ten Americans said that they believed in the media to report on all sides of a story.
Gallup said in a press release that the latest poll results were shocking primarily because it showed that Americans’ trust in the fourth pillar of democracy had taken such a beating.
“Now, only about a third of the U.S. has any trust in the Fourth Estate, a stunning development for an institution designed to inform the public,” it said.
The decline is particularly noticeable in a year when major party presidential candidates have been vehement in their denouncement of the mainstream media, especially Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has repeatedly taken potshots at the media — and some traditionally credible news organizations — for allegedly treating him and his campaign with prejudice. In fact, there has hardly been a month since he announced his candidacy last year where the real estate mogul has gone without criticizing the media. He has called CNN “Clinton News Network,” denounced the New York Times for running stories critical of his treatment of women, while also claiming that journalists are “bad, dishonest people” who “are among the worst human beings he has ever met.”
On the Democratic side, while Hillary Clinton has not been explicitly critical of mainstream media despite showing a distaste for alternative media outlets, including some which she once said were run by people with “dark hearts,” her erstwhile Democratic rival Bernie Sanders — and his supporters — have repeatedly attacked the mainstream media for publishing negative stories on the candidate, while also claiming that Clinton was hugely helped by a sympathetic media which would just not ask her the tough questions.
Based on the results of the poll, Gallup itself speculated on the reasons for the Americans’ loss of faith in the media and concluded that the constant Republican anti-media tirade, coupled with conservative pundits accusing the media of giving Hillary Clinton a favorable coverage, could be the biggest single reason for it, reports CNN.
“With many Republican leaders and conservative pundits saying Hillary Clinton has received overly positive media attention, while Donald Trump has been receiving unfair or negative attention, this may be the prime reason their relatively low trust in the media has evaporated even more.
It is also possible that Republicans think less of the media as a result of Trump’s sharp criticisms of the press. Republicans who say they have trust in the media has plummeted to 14 percent from 32 percent a year ago. This is easily the lowest confidence among Republicans in 20 years.”
Moreover, it is possible the mass media explosion, thanks to the internet, has given rise to a variety of media options — some of which do not necessarily meet the ethical standards traditionally required of journalists — which in turn has led to a loss of faith by Americans in the mass media.
“When opinion-driven writing becomes something like the norm, Americans may be wary of placing trust on the work of media institutions that have less rigorous reporting criteria than in the past,” Gallup said about another possible reason for the increasing distrust.
Do you think Americans losing trust in the media is well-founded, or is it just a result of the anti-media rhetoric that has been built up by the Republicans?
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