Gallup Poll Shows All-Time Low In Public Confidence In Media

The pollsters at Gallup reported Wednesday that Americans' confidence in the media's ability to report "the news fully, accurately, and fairly" has dropped to its previous all-time low of 40 percent. That number was at 55 percent in 1999, but hasn’t been above 50 percent since 2005.

The media are really struggling among Democrats, who have “traditionally expressed much higher levels of confidence in the media than Republicans have,” but their confidence (“great deal or fair amount of trust”) dropped to a 14-year low of 54 percent. Republican confidence dropped to 27 percent.

Pundits on the left often feel despondent when a policy battle doesn’t go their way. When the United States went to war in 2003, some felt the press corps committed a “Jonestown-style suicide.” It’s unsurprising with no new policy on gun control or immigration, the liberals would turn on the media for failing them. The recent polling downturn of Obama makes them feel that the media failed on that, too.

Gallup also found a “sharp uptick” in feeling the media are “too conservative” now:

As has been the case historically, Americans are most likely to feel the news media are "too liberal" (44%) rather than "too conservative," though this perceived liberal bias is now on the lower side of the trend. One in three (34%) say the media are "just about right" in terms of their coverage -- down slightly from 37% last year.

Nearly one in five Americans (19%) say the media are too conservative, which is still relatively low, but the highest such percentage since 2006. This is up six points from 2013 -- the sharpest increase in the percentage of Americans who feel the news skews too far right since Gallup began asking the question in 2001.

These questions do not define what “the media” are. If it were limited to outlets that claim to be objective, “too conservative” sounds very strange. It’s less strange if “the media” includes all the political talk shows and bloggers and social-media memes that people come across. This dissatisfaction could be seen as a sign of the alternative media’s reach.

For many more polls showing the public's views on the media's fairness and trustworthiness, see MRC's special Web section Media Bias 101, containing key statistics from dozens of polls and academic studies going back to the 1960s.

— Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center. Follow Tim Graham on Twitter.