A new Gallup poll released this week shows that just 40% of Americans have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in the media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.
This matches the lowest that number has been, set in 2012 and tied in 2014. The high watermark for media trust was in 1999 at 55 percent, and has been steadily trending downward since that time.
Among Americans aged 18 to 49, trust was even lower at 36 percent.
Even though trust in the media among Democrats is predictably higher than Republicans, by a margin of 55 to 32 percent, it’s still down significantly from its all-time high of 70 percent in 2007. Media trust by independents fell from 38 percent to 33 percent, just slightly above its all-time low of 31 percent.
Gallup said that while the trust level in the media has been drifting downward over the past decade, mirroring the decline in the trust in government as well as confidence in many U.S. institutions, some of the loss of trust was probably self-inflicted, citing the Brian Williams scandal as an example.
That is true. The media have no one to blame for the drop in trust levels but themselves as they have not been honest with the public. And thanks to the internet and the rapid growth of social media, they have a harder time hiding the truth than they were able to do in the past.
With what is shaping up to be a brutal presidential election year—especially if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee—the odds are that the public’s distrust of the media will only increase in 2016.