Thursday September 30, 2010

Poll Finds Record Majority of Americans Distrust Mainstream Media

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 30, 2010 ( – A new Gallup poll shows that a record majority of Americans have little to no trust in mainstream media to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly.” Nearly half cited “liberal bias” in the media, which ranked only slightly higher than the U.S. Congress in public confidence levels.

Gallup reports that 57 percent of those polled for their annual Governance poll, conducted Sept. 13-16, 2010, said their “confidence and trust” in mass media – newspapers, television, and radio – was “not very much/none at all.” This is one percentage point higher than the record set in 2008.

Forty-three percent said they rated their confidence in the media as “great deal/fair amount.”

The numbers represent a huge turnaround of confidence from three decades ago, when the public had a great deal/fair amount of confidence in the media in the high 60th to low 70th percentile.

Forty-eight percent of Americans said that the news media is “too liberal,” while 33 percent say it is “just right.” Only 15 percent say the media is “too conservative.”

A majority of those identifying themselves as Democrats or liberals tended to have trust in the media. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats had confidence in the media, while 48 percent thought its reporting was “just about right.” Among liberals, 54 percent said they had confidence in the media, and 51 percent did not perceive any media bias.

However Independents and Republicans expressed similar levels of distrust of the media. Sixty-one percent of Independents said they had little to no trust in the media, while 67 percent of Republicans said the same.

Independents and Republicans were more divided in how liberal they thought media reporting was. Republicans were very dissatisfied with mainstream reporting, with 76 percent saying that the media was “too liberal” and 15 percent saying it was “just about right.” Conservatives held similar views.

Among Independents, 45 percent thought mass media was “too liberal,” while 35 percent did not detect a bias.

The mainstream media, nevertheless, garners more public confidence than the U.S. Congress, the elected representatives of the American people. In another Gallup poll, just 36 percent of Americans say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the legislative branch.

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