September 14, 2016

Journalists have taken fire from candidates and their surrogates this year as the election approaches, and some of that criticism seems to have stuck.

In Gallup’s annual poll measuring Americans’ trust in mass media, just 32 percent of those surveyed said they had “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the media, down eight percentage points from 2015. Fourteen percent of Republicans surveyed expressed trust, down from 32 percent in 2016.

(Source: Gallup)

(Source: Gallup)

Trust in mass media was at its highest, 72 percent, in 1976, two years after Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate disclosures. It has fallen steadily since the early 2000s and dipped below a majority level after 2007.

The drop in overall trust this year was caused in part by a conspicuous decline among Republican respondents, who reported a lack in confidence as pundits and politicians accused reporters of giving Hillary Clinton preferential treatment, according to Gallup.

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.

With many Republican leaders and conservative pundits saying Hillary Clinton has received overly positive media attention, while 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. It is also possible that Republicans think less of the media as a result of Trump’s sharp criticisms of the press. Republicans who say they have trust in the media has plummeted to 14% from 32% a year ago. This is easily the lowest confidence among Republicans in 20 years.

Gallup’s full report is here.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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