Democrats' confidence in mass media rises sharply
September 24, 2017
• Trust and confidence in mass media among all U.S. adults is up
• Republicans' trust is unchanged at 14 percent
Democrats' trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news "fully, accurately and fairly" has jumped from 51 percent in 2016 to 72 percent this year, according to new polling by Gallup Inc.
The increase is fueling a rise in Americans' overall confidence to 41 percent. independents' trust has risen modestly to 37 percent, while Republicans' trust is unchanged at 14 percent, Gallup says.
Democratic trust and confidence in the news media is the highest it has been in the past 20 years, having previously peaked at 70 percent in 2005. Following that high, Democrats' trust in the media declined, reaching the lower 50s by 2014.
Democrats' renewed trust in the media may be driven by the perception that it acts as a watchdog over Republican President Donald Trump, says Gallup. Reporting on the alleged unrest surrounding Trump's administration -- including the departure of several high-level aides and the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's potential meddling with Russia -- may be feeding this perception.
Democratic trust has been higher than that of Republicans throughout the past two decades, Gallup says. The only time that Republicans' confidence has topped 50 percent was in 1998, when 52 percent expressed trust and confidence in the mass media in the midst of President Bill Clinton's scandal regarding Monica Lewinsky.
The 14 percent trust among Republicans today ties with 2016 as the low for this party in Gallup's trend. The gap in trust between the two parties has reached a record-high 58 percentage points.
Independents' level of trust in the media generally falls between that of Republicans and Democrats. Despite a slight increase this year, says Gallup, the 37 percent of independents who trust the media is on the lower end of what Gallup has measured for this group. By comparison, before 2003, half or more of independents trusted the media.
The most recent findings, from a Gallup poll conducted September 6-10, dovetail with an August survey showing that 62 percent of Democrats vs. 14 percent of Republicans say the media "get the facts straight." The September results also follow a June poll that showed a rising percentage of Americans have a great deal of confidence in newspapers, mostly because of an increase among Democrats.
The surge in media trust among Democrats has led to a nine-point increase in the overall percentage of U.S. adults who trust the media compared with last year's record low. Gallup began asking this question in 1972, and has done so nearly every year since 1997. Americans' trust in the mass media peaked in 1976, at 72 percent, following the investigative journalism of the Watergate scandal and reporting on the Vietnam War. Trust dipped into the 50s in the late 1990s before falling into the 40s during the mid-2000s and beyond.
Notes about the methodology
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted September 6-10, 2017, with a random sample of 1,022 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70 percent cellphone respondents and 30 percent landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.