Thursday, September 23, 2004

Trust In Media Hits New Low

Thanks, Dan: Gallup Finds Trust in Media at New Low
By E & P Staff
Published: September 23, 2004 11:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK In the wake of the CBS "60 Minutes" controversy, a new Gallup Poll finds the news media's credibility has declined significantly among the public.

The poll, taken Sept. 13-15 while the CBS report on President Bush's National Guard service was being questioned but before the network issued an apology, found that just 44% of Americans express confidence in the media's ability to report news stories accurately and fairly.

"This is a significant drop from one year ago," Gallup reports, "when 54% of Americans expressed a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the media. The latest result is particularly striking because this figure had previously been very stable -- fluctuating only between 51% and 55% from 1997-2003."

On the other hand, 39% currently say they have "not very much" confidence in the media's accuracy and fairness, while 16% say they have "none at all."

"Clearly, something new has happened to shake public confidence in the media," Gallup reports, "but whether that 'something' is the recent CBS News controversy is a matter of speculation.

"One might assume that if the CBS News story were the culprit, that this would be reflected in a disproportionately large drop in confidence in the media among Republicans. However, the data on this is not conclusive. Trust in the news media is typically lower among Republicans, but all three partisan groups show a significant decline in confidence in the media since last year. It did drop by a somewhat greater degree among Republicans than Democrats, however."

The partisan divide goes something like this: 59% of Democrats express confidence in the media, 31% of Republicans do so and 44% of Independents feel that way.

Of the entire sample, 48% perceive the media as "too liberal," 15% as "too conservative," and 33% find it "just about right." The number finding the media too liberal has only gone up 3% in the past year, however.