Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Reaches All-Time-Low, Poll Shows

Monica Sanchez | September 14, 2016

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According to a new Gallup poll, Americans’ trust in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” has sunk to a new low of 32 percent, down eight percentage points from last year.

The measure has been on a steady decline for more than a decade and “consistently below a majority level since 2007,” Gallup reports. 

“Gallup began asking this question in 1972, and on a yearly basis since 1997,” Gallup writes. “Over the history of the entire trend, Americans' trust and confidence hit its highest point in 1976, at 72%, in the wake of widely lauded examples of investigative journalism regarding Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. After staying in the low to mid-50s through the late 1990s and into the early years of the new century, Americans' trust in the media has fallen slowly and steadily.”

Similarly, a poll from June revealed that Americans’ confidence in newspapers and television news as "trustworthy or reliable U.S. institutions" experienced a steep decline over the past decade.

Confidence in newspapers reached an all-time-low this year at 20 percent, down 10 percentage points since 2006.

Along party lines, the new Gallup poll shows that Republicans trust the mass media the least.

Only 14 percent of Republicans trust the media, Gallup reports, a sharp decline from 32 percent in 2015 and the lowest recorded measure of confidence among members of the party in 20 years.

Democrats’ and independents’ trust in the media, too, has dropped, but not as significantly.

This year, 51 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of independents expressed trust in mass media, compared with 55 percent and 33 percent in 2015.

Talk among presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton of unfair treatment by the media may have contributed to the decline in trust. 

Trump has often bashed the media as untrustworthy and biased.  

Clinton recently told reporters at her first formal press conference in over 9 months that she finds media coverage of her campaign "frustrating," suggesting that the Trump campaign has somehow received better treatment.