The nation’s plummeting trust in the legacy media has been driven almost entirely by conservatives, as a new poll reveals the number of Republicans who believe the national news media has fallen by half over the last five years.
All in all, 58% of Americans say they take at least some of the information reported by the legacy media at face value — a precipitous drop from 76% in 2016.
“While still a majority, this is the smallest share over the past five years this question was asked,” the Pew Research Center reported.
But the number varies widely according to political party affiliation, according to a new poll from Pew. The number of Democrats who put their faith in media reporting has remained nearly unchanged since 2016, declining only five points, from 83% to 78%.
But Republicans who said they could place stock in at least some of the legacy media’s dispatches halved, falling from 70% in 2016 to 35% in 2021.
While that’s an enormous drop, much of it has come in just the last 18 months. The share of GOP members who say that the legacy media reports the truth has fallen by 14 percentage points since late 2019. The year 2020 brought an onslaught of news about the novel coronavirus global pandemic — including blanket assurances that COVID-19 could not have originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology — as well as overly negative coverage of former President Donald Trump and reports of “fiery but mostly peaceful protests” by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Registered Democrats have greater trust in the national news media than Republicans by 43 percentage points, but their fidelity to the Fourth Estate extends to local and social media news outlets. While two-thirds of Republicans trust local media, 84% of Democrats do so.
Despite frequently condemning “misinformation on Facebook,” Democrats are also more likely to trust social media as a source of bona fide information. “About a third of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (34%) and 19% of Republicans and Republican leaners say they have at least some trust in the information that comes from social media – a 15-point gap,” wrote Pew Research Center senior researcher Jeffrey Gottfried. “This gap is larger than gaps from any other time in recent years and has nearly doubled since late 2019.”
Conservatives’ trust in social media platforms like Twitter has eroded since the 2020 election when those outlets prevented users from sharing a New York Post story about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, permanently banned former President Donald Trump for inciting violence while allowing an apparent spokesman for the Taliban to maintain his account, and coordinated to put their competitor, Parler, out of business.
Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to trust “mainstream” media sources. While just over half (53%) of Republican Party members say they trust major media outlets, 78% of Democrats trusted the often corporate-dominated media, according to another Pew Research poll released in July. Only 6% of Republicans trust TV news.
While Democrats seemingly put greater confidence in what they read or hear from large media outlets, yet another recent Pew Research poll found — somewhat counterintuitively — they also believe that politicians should ban “misinformation,” even at the cost of suppressing truth. Nearly two out of three Democrats agreed that “the government should take steps to restrict false information, even if it means losing some freedom to access and publish content.”
Part of the reason conservatives do not share the Left’s confidence in the media is that they owe their fundamental allegiance to other institutions. “Republicans have far more confidence than Democrats in the police and the church,” a Gallup poll found this summer.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.