Gallup poll: US confidence in media hits fresh low

Trust in the media hit its highest point in 1976, at 72 percent following the investigative journalism coverage of the Watergate scandal

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Americans’ trust in the media has sunk to a new low, and a bitter presidential race may be to blame, a Gallup survey showed Wednesday.

The poll asking whether the media report the news “fully, accurately and fairly” found just 32 percent of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of trust, the lowest level in Gallup polling history and eight percentage points below last year.

Gallup began asking the question in 1972, and has polled Americans on a yearly basis since 1997.

Trust and confidence in the media hit its highest point in 1976, at 72 percent following the investigative journalism coverage of the Vietnam and the Watergate scandal, according to the research group. But confidence has been below 50 percent since 2007.

“While it is clear Americans’ trust in the media has been eroding over time, the election campaign may be the reason that it has fallen so sharply this year,” Gallup said in its report.

“With many Republican leaders and conservative pundits saying (Democratic presidential nominee) Hillary Clinton has received overly positive media attention, while (Republican nominee) Donald Trump has been receiving unfair or negative attention, this may be the prime reason their relatively low trust in the media has evaporated even more.”

Gallup said Trump’s sharp criticism of the press may also have had an impact on public opinion.

Just 14 percent of Republicans said they trust the media, down sharply from 32 percent a year ago and the lowest level of confidence among Republicans in 20 years, according to Gallup.

Among Democrats, 51 percent expressed confidence in the media, down from 55 percent a year ago, while the number of independents trusting news organizations fell to 30 percent from 33 percent.

Trust was also low among younger adults: just 26 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 49 said they felt confidence in the media compared with 38 percent of those 50 and older.

Gallup conducted telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,020 adults from September 7-11, and estimated its margin of error at four percentage points.

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