Gallup reported Wednesday that more people distrust mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” now than at any other time in Gallup polling history. According to the polling agency, only 32 percent of poll respondents said they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.
While trust in the media has been on a consistent downward slope for years, how the media has reported on the 2016 elections is likely the reason for the sharp decline in 2016, dropping 8 points from 2015. This would follow historic trends of trust declining significantly in presidential election years. In 2004, for instance, trust fell to 44 percent from 54 percent the previous year. Trust among U.S. adults dropped 4 points in both 2008 and 2012 as well.
The largest drop in 2016 was seen among Republicans. Trust from this demographic plummeted 18 points from 32 percent in 2015 to 14 percent in 2016. Trust dropped 3 points among independents and 4 points among Democrats. According to Gallup, claims by GOP leaders and pundits that Hillary Clinton is receiving overly positive news coverage while downplaying her scandals may be the reason for the huge drop among Republican voters.
Breaking the demographics down by age, trust among respondents 18-49 fell 10 points from 36 percent in 2015 to 26 percent in 2016. Trust among adults 50 or older fell 7 points.
Clearly, Americans are not satisfied with how the mass media has covered the elections. Much of the coverage is a two-sided narrative that either focuses on Donald Trump’s latest tweet or, lately, Hillary Clinton’s bout with pneumonia — a topic that received nonstop attention from cable news outlets like CNN.
There is also the issue of how the media handles its polls. According to IVN author Rodolfo Cortes Barragan, publicly-available information shows that CNN doesn’t even poll Millennials. Fox News also drastically under-samples independent voters at 17 percent while most polls sample this voting demographic at 34-38 percent.
Yet these media outlets take it upon themselves to tell voters who they should vote for and who isn’t viable. From nonstop tit-for-tat partisan insults to skewed public opinion polls, is it really any wonder why voters don’t trust the mass media to present information fully, accurately, and fairly?