Media Credibility Reaches Lowest Point in Three Decades


This shouldn’t come as a surprise:

As media analysts and journalists wring their hands over the fallout from CBS News’ faulty reporting relative to President George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era National Guard service, a new Gallup Poll finds the news media’s credibility has declined significantly among the public. The Sept. 13-15 poll — conducted after the CBS News report was questioned but before the network issued a formal apology — found that just 44% of Americans express confidence in the media’s ability to report news stories accurately and fairly (9% say “a great deal” and 35% “a fair amount”). This is a significant drop from one year ago, 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.

Conversely, 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, 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.

Pretty sad day when you can’t trust your own news sources.