In an election year that many are dubbing the most important of our time, the American peoples’ distrust in the media — the very entity that is intended to educate the greater society — is higher than ever. According to Gallup, 60 percent of the nation has very little or no trust for mass media to report the news in a fair and accurate manner.
The fact that six-in-10 Americans have such little confidence in the media is troubling, particularly in an important election year. As can be seen from the above trending data, trust, too, is at its lowest, with only 40 percent of the population claiming to have a fair amount or a great deal of trust in mass media.
Bias, of course, is nothing new, at least when it comes to public perception. But this data points to an all-time high for distrust during a presidential year. Gallup has more about the data at hand:
This reflects the continuation of a pattern in which negativity increases every election year compared with the year prior. The current gap between negative and positive views — 20 percentage points — is by far the highest Gallup has recorded since it began regularly asking the question in the 1990s. Trust in the media was much higher, and more positive than negative, in the years prior to 2004 — as high as 72% when Gallup asked this question three times in the 1970s.
These numbers become even more fascinating when one explores Republicans, Democrats and Independents. According to the proportions, Independents and Republicans are driving the decline in trust.
Only 26 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Independents report having a great deal or a fair amount of trust in the media. Both are record lows when looking back to 1998 data.
Considering that the majority of Americans distrust the media, the natural question that comes next is — how many are actually paying attention, especially considering that it’s an election year? While Americans are less likely than they were in 2008 (39 percent versus 43 percent) to be paying close attention, the general pattern of increased engagement in election years continues.
Ironically, despite their mass distrust, Republicans are the most likely to be paying attention to news about national politics, as 48 percent claim they’re paying attention “very closely” to national political news. Democrats are the least likely, with only 33 percent reporting the same.
Read the full Gallup results here.