Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 19, 2011

THE NETWORKS VIEWERS TRUST (OR DON'T).... For the second year in a row, Public Policy Polling put a "TV News Trust Poll" in the field, with some notable results.

PPP included PBS in the survey for the first time, and found the network easily surpassed its corporate rivals when it comes to public trust. The rest of the polled outlets -- NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and Fox News -- were relatively close with one another when it came to viewers' perceptions of reliability.

But the shifts over the last year were interesting. NBC, CBS, and ABC each saw their trust levels increase over this point in 2010, by similar margins. CNN's numbers were effectively the same.

Fox News, meanwhile, saw the biggest shift. A year ago, 49% of respondents said they trust the Republican network, while 37% did not. This year, both numbers took a turn for the worse -- 42% now trust Fox News, while a 46% plurality does not.

There's a simple explanation for this.

A year ago a plurality of Americans said they trusted Fox News. Now a plurality of them don't. Conservatives haven't moved all that much -- 75% said they trusted it last year and 72% still do this time around. But moderates and liberals have both had a strong increase in their level of distrust for the network -- a 12 point gain from 48% to 60% for moderates and a 16 point gain from 66% to 82% for liberals. Voters between left and center tend to be more trusting of the media across the board, which is why a fair number of them were still rating Fox favorably even a year ago at this time. But it looks like with a lot of those folks it has finally crossed the line to being too political to trust.

I have no idea what took them so long.

The PPP analysis concluded, "Democrats trust everything but Fox. Republicans don't trust anything but Fox." Sounds about right.

Steve Benen 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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So far, public is warming to health care reform and is slowly realizing Fox isn't news.

There's hope for America yet.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on January 19, 2011 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

What took them so long was the ubiquity of Fox. It was everywhere you went- car repair, bars, airports. And on weekends it was the only news station reporting news, not documentaries (MSNBC) or magazines shows (CNN). Liberals and moderates made the false assumption that only the prime time line up was biased, that news was news. I think Shep Smith himself helped wake people up when he broke ranks on several occasions.

Posted by: vickijean on January 19, 2011 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"42% now trust Fox News"

Better. But we still have a long way to go. God our country is stupid.

Posted by: jharp on January 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"I have no idea what took them so long."

You are way too nice, Steve. You know exactly why. It's called intellectual curiosity. In this case a lack of it. A curious person won't sit in front of a boob-tube and nod their head approvingly with what is said w/o first checking to see if they have been handed a pile of dog poo.

FOX relies on the nod/drool/blank bovine stare lemming who takes their gibberish as dogma. Sort of like Catholics who think that they are the only ones going to heaven. Boy are they going to be surprised to see God is a female...

Posted by: stevio on January 19, 2011 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

and not white...

Posted by: stevio on January 19, 2011 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

The relevant question of the moment:

If Americans quit watching FOXNEWS, will the level of political civility increase, decrease, or have no change?

Me thinks the answer is the increase of civility, but others may disagree. Either way, turning off FOXNEWS is never a bad choice! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 19, 2011 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'd guess the increase in non-FOX trust is a direct result of realizing Fox is untrustworthy: people tend to think in binary oppositions.

Posted by: Malek on January 19, 2011 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Take another look at the numbers. More people truat FOX than any of the other commercial networks. The fact that 49% of the population ever trusted FOX is really disturbing. The most you can say is that the numbers are headed in the right direction.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on January 19, 2011 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad it's TV only; I'd like to see these numbers for NPR. I bet they would be at the top on this list.

Posted by: Churchyard on January 19, 2011 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know that I "trust" any of them. At least with Fox the agenda is clear. And perhaps PBS. With the rest, they're either trying to keep up with Fox, or just throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks. None, except again maybe PBS, are actually trying to inform their viewers.

Posted by: DelCapslock on January 19, 2011 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I decided to post a link directly to the PPP site so as to avoid the dreaded liberal web site bias on the part of some of my Facebook friends. I was told: "This message contains blocked content that has been flagged as abusive or spammy. Let us know if you think this is an error." I did let them know. I've since posted a link to the story from this site and another. I also informed my FB friends of the tactics employed by "some people."

Posted by: Jerry Sweeney on January 19, 2011 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

And Jon Stewart the most trusted newsman in America is not on the poll?


Posted by: John R on January 19, 2011 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I don't trust anything but Rachel Maddow, so there.

Posted by: cld on January 19, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, complete the conclusion. PPP concluded that "Democrats trust everything but Fox. Republicans don't trust anything but Fox. And independents don't trust much of anything."

What has me worried is that Democrats seem to trust everything (but Fox.) Independents seem to take a more reasonable approach--don't trust any media outlet.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 19, 2011 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, who'da thunk that a network that gave 2 million to the GOP in the last election couldn't be "Fair and balanced"?

Posted by: Al Swearengen on January 19, 2011 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

I trust Fox to lie and distort. Does that count?

Posted by: bushwahd on January 19, 2011 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

lots of interesting stuff in the crosstabs...

no noticable gender gap but blacks distrust fox by a wide margin compared to all other networks...and among age groups trust drops with every network but fox as viewers get older.... fox wobbles up and down with over 65s trusting it the most..

as for moderates

65% trust PBS
54% CNN
52% NBC
47% CBS
46% ABC
28% Fox

it really is goptv

Posted by: dj spellchecka on January 19, 2011 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

You notice the percentage of people who trust Fox is almost the same as the percentage who support the GOP without question. Coincidence? I wonder.

Damn it is scary that nearly 305 of Americans are that trusting.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 19, 2011 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

305 = 30%. Sorry

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 19, 2011 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Now that they've included PBS, they may as well go all the way and include Comedy Central. I'm actually serious: If I were being asked to rank networks based on my perception of their credibility, Comedy Central would have to rank #1 by a mile, courtesy of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

Jon Stewart's opening segment on the Monday after the Tucson shootings featured the kind of honest, thoughtful commentary that used to make Walter Cronkite the most trusted man in America. I know he disclaims it, but he (Stewart) really does occupy the same position Cronkite did, at least for a largeish swath of viewers.

Posted by: John Callender on January 19, 2011 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

What John C said: did they include Comedy Central? And how does Maddow score?

Posted by: JohnN on January 19, 2011 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK



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