Public Policy Poll (PPP) performs an annual poll on TV news. It finds that the only news source Americans trust more than they distrust is PBS (52% trust/29% distrusts). All other outlets polled, (NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, Comedy Central, and Fox News) were underwater.
In the national survey the trust/distrust numbers were as follows:
On the periphery PBS not withstanding, Fox News looks to be in the top tier of trustworthiness with CNN and NBC. When one digs deeper into the poll’s crosstabs the unsurprising reality is quickly exposed. First, when asked which outlet is trusted the least, Fox News is selected by 34% of the respondents, almost three times more than any of the other individual outlets. When asked which outlet is trusted the most, Fox News also comes out on top with 39%. This as well is more than three times any of the other individual outlets.
How can a network be the least trusted and the most trusted of the bunch? It is called polarization. 67% of Obama voters believe Fox News is the least trustworthy while 68% of Romney voters believe Fox News is the most trustworthy. While Obama voters watch many different outlets, Romney’s voters are concentrated on one network, Fox News.
So what does all of this mean? PPP says it concisely in their press release.
We find once again this year that Democrats trust everything except Fox, and Republicans don’t trust anything other than Fox. Democrats put the most faith in PBS (+61 at 72/11), followed by NBC (+45 at 61/16), MSNBC (+39 at 58/19), CBS (+38 at 54/16), CNN (+36 at 57/21), ABC (+35 at 51/16), and Comedy Central (+10 at 38/28). Out of the non-Fox channels Republicans have the most faith in PBS at -21 (27/48), followed by NBC (-48 at 18/66), CNN (-49 at 17/66), ABC (-56 at 14/70), MSNBC (-56 at 12/68), CBS (-57 at 15/72), and Comedy Central (-58 at 8/66).
The most interesting numbers from the poll is the large decline of Fox News’ credibility since 2010. 49% trusted them in 2010 while now it is 41% and almost exclusively Republican. This portends that Fox News will be a force for some time to come irrespective of its affinity for misinformation as long as there is an audience who willfully accepts deception.