Editor’s note: Issues & Insights gratefully acknowledges its collaboration with tippinsights on the simultaneous and exclusive release of this story.
The media seem to have a pervasive influence on American life, ranging from politics to business to culture. And yet, as our latest I&I/TIPP Poll clearly shows, trust in those who deliver our news, gossip, and opinions is declining sharply and broadly among the American public.
In our most recent sounding of public opinion, the I&I/TIPP Traditional Media Trust Index stood at 51 as recently as March, a level indicating a slightly positive view of the traditional media. However, it has declined sharply since then, falling to 42.8 in July, a 16.1% decline from March, and down 8.5% from June’s 46.8 reading.
All in all, it is a sign of a significant recent shift in public views of recent media performance.
The I&I/TIPP media trust indexes come from the monthly I&I/TIPP poll conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. The most recent poll was conducted online from June 30 through July 2. The poll includes responses from 1,424 adults, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 points. It is part of a new collaboration between Issues & Insights and TIPP to gauge public opinion on key current issues of interest to all Americans.
Responses to the following question form the basis of the Traditional Media Index: Generally speaking, how much trust do you have in the traditional or established news media (Example: Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, CBS News, etc.) to report the news accurately and fairly?
The chart below shows the tally of responses:
Responses to the following question form the basis of the Alternative Media Index: Generally speaking, how much trust do you have in the alternative news media (Example: New York Post, Washington Times, NewsMax, The Daily Caller, RealClearPolitics, etc.) to report the news accurately and fairly?
We present the results below:
The poll’s results showed declines across many demographic and political sectors when it comes to trust in traditional media. But two exceptions stand out: Women remained relatively unchanged in their trust, with that index dipping just 0.1 point to 41.1 from June to July. So virtually all of the big monthly decline came among men, whose trust in the traditional, mainstream media plunged 14.7% to 44.6%.
A well-defined ideological and political split was also noteworthy.
For the monthly data, Democrats posted a small gain in media trust, rising 1.1% from 64.4 in June to 65.1 in July. However, the rest of the main political groupings weren’t so sanguine about the media: Republicans’ trust in the media plunged 13.3% to a rock-bottom reading of 25.5, while independents and other non-major party affiliates, who now make up more than a third of all voters, declined 10.7% to 32.5.
All in all, there’s a clear trend toward lost trust in the traditional media. The same isn’t true for the smaller and mostly online-only alternate media, which, while still below the make-or-break trust reading of 50 or higher, have suffered a much smaller decline.
Since the I&I/TIPP Poll’s inception in March, the Alternate Media Trust Index has fallen 8%, from 44.8 to 41.1, just half as large a drop as that suffered by the Traditional Media.
But in this case, the four-month decline for the online media is almost entirely within a few categories. Alternative media trust among conservatives declined from 50.4 in March to just 43.5 in July, a near-13% plunge. For moderates, the drop was 3.5% to 36.2. Liberals’ trust actually rose slightly, from March’s 48.3 to July’s 48.6.
Why the big drop among conservatives, especially men? And why the overall decline and weakness?
A big part of it might be the new “woke” racial attitudes that have become prevalent among many big media outlets. As evidence, a new Gallup Poll indicates that black-white relations are at a two-decade low, which some attribute to the impact that Critical Race Theory has had on some media’s coverage of social issues and the economy.
Recent polls suggest such “woke” thinking alarms many Americans. Our own poll this month showed that fully 31% of Americans had a negative view of such beliefs, calling such woke thinking “an anti-American ideology,” “a threat to national security,” or “a socialist ideology.”
Another part of the drop might be the now-open admissions by some major news media that they are, indeed, biased.
One recent example: A July 17 CBS “This Morning” news show that, in the words of the Media Research Center, “openly embraced” journalistic activism of the leftist kind in an interview with Critical Race Theory advocate Nikole Hannah-Jones. The New York Times, Washington Post (“Democracy Dies In Darkness”), and other major media outlets have, in recent months and years, come out with similar remarks.
The Biden administration’s suggestions that it would back the banning of groups on social media for spreading what it calls “misinformation” likewise has conservatives’ hackles up, part of a pattern.
“I think it’s really scary to have the federal government of the United States, the White House compiling lists of people, organizations, whatever and going to a private company that by the way is a monopoly – Facebook – and saying you need to censor,” Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News.
But even some journalists on the left rang alarm bells over potential censorship of views by the government and Big Media acting in cahoots.
“The Biden administration is telling Facebook which posts it regards as ‘problematic’ so that Facebook can remove them,” tweeted left-leaning journalist Glenn Greenwald. “This is the union of corporate and state power – one of the classic hallmarks of fascism – that the people who spent five years babbling about fascism support.”
Recent White House comments that it will be eyeing “conservative outlets who are creating irresponsible content …” has raised free-speech concerns, especially with mainstream media and Big Tech seeming to back crackdowns and “canceling” of conservative outlets.
And none of this includes the media’s coverage of the COVID-19 virus, which even many media partisans agree has been abysmally biased.
The new I&I/TIPP data on how Americans view wokeism underscore the strong differences of opinion that have led to a politically polarized electorate and some of the most bitter debates in decades. This has infected the media, both online and traditional, it seems.
I&I/TIPP looks forward to providing more data in the coming weeks on topics of vital interest to all Americans. TIPP, as we’ve noted, has the distinction of being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.