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The Washington Post Building: 'Democracy Dies In Darkness.' Photo: Ron Cogswell. Licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).

Will Americans Ever Trust The Media Again? — I&I/TIPP Poll

Each month, the I&I/TIPP Poll seeks to gauge how much the public trusts the media to do their jobs. And, as time goes by, the answer seems increasingly clear: Average Americans no longer trust the media to tell the unvarnished truth about what’s going on in our country and the world.

June’s media indexes show that, whatever else our major news and information outlets might have going for them, trust among the reading public isn’t one of them.

The online June I&I/TIPP Poll of 1,310 adults, taken from June 8-10 with a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points, asked the following questions, as it has each month since March of 2021:

  • “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?”
  • “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?”

From these two questions, I&I/TIPP has created a monthly Traditional Media Index and an Alternative Media Index. This lets us gauge how the public view the major media over time.

First, look at June’s monthly data: Just 34% of Americans say they trust the “traditional” or established news outlets, while 58% say they have no trust. Diving a bit deeper into those numbers, only 12% describe themselves as having “a lot of trust,” while 22% say they have “quite a bit” of trust.

On the other side, 27% say they have “no trust at all” in the big media. None. And 31% express “little trust.”

Not exactly a big vote of confidence.

The picture’s even bleaker for the “alternative” news media. Those expressing “a lot of trust” totaled a mere 9%, while those describing themselves as having “quite a bit” was just 19%.

So, total, only 28% of Americans trust the alternative news outlets.

Meanwhile, those lacking trust in the alternative news sources total 64%, with 27% saying they have no trust at all and 37% claiming “little trust.” “Not sure” is 9%.

Over time, as America becomes increasingly divided along political lines, the overall view of the media seems to have soured significantly.

For the Traditional Media Index, the first month (March 2021) was the high point at 51. A reading over 50 indicates overall trust, while a reading below that signals lack of trust. It hasn’t been above 50 since.

Indeed, not counting that solid first month, the index has averaged 42.6. And it’s been below that average every month this year, with the exception of one.

June’s reading of 39.2 was the third lowest ever.

Believe it or not, the Alternative Media Index tells an even starker tale. That index fell to 35.6 in June, also the third lowest ever. But unlike the Traditional Media Index, the Alternative gauge has never been above 50. Indeed, its high point of 44.8 came in the first month, and it has been solidly in the mid-30s for nine straight months.

So what do all these numbers mean? That the media have a crisis of confidence on their hands, and are doing little to correct or address their issues, which include pervasive far-left cultural and political biases that are starkly at odds with mainstream America.

Recent examples abound.

  • Media gave fawning coverage to Cassidy Hutchinson’s apparently damning evidence against former President Donald Trump in the Jan. 6 congressional hearings, but virtually ignored comments by former members of Trump’s Secret Service detail that contradicted her testimony.
  • Again, the media largely ignored a threat of assassination against a sitting Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh and the subsequent harassment that he and other high-court justices have faced after the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Major outlets also have covered for the terroristic pro-abortion group “Jane’s Revenge” by even refusing to use its name.
  • Then there are the near-silence and outright lies of mainstream media about the secret flights moving illegal immigrants away from the border and locating them in communities far away, making it harder to account for their whereabouts, legal or illegal.
  • With a recession looming, several major newspapers have joined the “Don’t worry, be happy” school of journalism, telling Americans that a recession “may not be so bad” (L.A. Times) or advising readers “Don’t rant . . . Try to lower expectations” (Washington Post).

The list could go on and on. These are just a handful of items culled from recent headlines and news accounts. The media’s pervasive political bias and failure to report on significant events has severely damaged its reputation.

And, once again, the I&I/TIPP Poll isn’t the only one to note this.

A recent Pew poll, for instance, asked both journalists and the public how the media were doing their jobs. It found a huge gap: “For example, while 65% of journalists say news organizations do a very or somewhat good job reporting the news accurately, 35% of the public agrees, while 43% of U.S. adults say journalists do a bad job of this.”

Moreover, while declining trust in the media seems to be a global phenomenon, it’s worst here. A massive global Digital News Report, based on a survey of six continents and 46 major media markets by the Reuters Institute and Oxford University, found on average 42% of people globally “trust the news most of the time.”

But one country stood out as lowest among all nations surveyed: The U.S., at just 26%.

I&I/TIPP publishes timely and informative data each month from our polls on this topic and others of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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Terry Jones

Terry Jones was part of Investor's Business Daily from its inception in 1983, working in a variety of posts, including reporter, economics correspondent, National Issues editor and economics editor. Most recently, from 1996 to 2019, he served as associate editor of the newspaper and deputy editor and editor of IBD's Issues & Insights. His many media appearances include spots on the Larry Kudlow, Bill O’Reilly, Dennis Miller, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Glenn Beck shows. He also served as Free Markets columnist for Townhall Magazine, and as a weekly guest on PJTV’s The Front Page. He holds both bachelor's and master's degrees from UCLA, and is an Abraham Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute

6 comments

  • Something my mother said to me when I was young holds true always- Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you read. We are individually responsible for finding accurate information no matter how time consuming.

  • The mainstream media is the propaganda ancillary of the Democratic Party and both of them revel in the control of the public narrative they enjoy. This is POWER and as we all know power ultimately corrupts as it congeals and eliminates any adversaries.

  • Why intone that lack of trust in media is a bad thing? Trusting traditional or alternative media isn’t a virtue. Trusting authority, be it government or media isn’t what free, educated people are supposed to do. We are supposed to question everything, from all sources. Use our own God-given reasoning skills to discern truth from any source. Knowing that those sources deemed “trustworthy” by authorities is rarely that. Sure, we can use shorthand knowledge of sources and those we’ve found to more closely present information often aligns with our own reason and common sense. But giving any source, media or government our trust without applying our own analysis and research is intellectually lazy and leaves us easily manipulated by powers that do not have our best interests in minds. Americans giving media as much trust as we have is what has put freedom and liberty, our constitutional values in real jeopardy. Americans must get back to the hard work of democracy and freedom – doing our own research and learning, applying our own reasoning to understanding. We must trust in our own mind’s ability to discern truth more than trust in another’s. Especially others who’s agendas are determined by where it’s money and power come from, like corporate ad revenue or the government trough. These polls should be celebrated as a good first step in the right direction back to true freedom as the Founders intended

  • I believe that people go into journalism today to “make a difference”, not to report the news.

  • NO Nor should they have ever trusted them in the first place. Opinion mongers, rumor mongers, ideologues and poorly educated ,, purely developed children have always infested the press from the beginning. We live in a post information credibility era. You are on your own. and if you don’t know how to find reliable information you are screwed.

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