There were a couple of interesting stories out today that unexpectedly dovetailed into a nice commentary on the news media. First up we have a very interesting poll from Axios.
This is actually stunning. A super-majority of Americans thinks that the news media intentionally runs inaccurate stories. To be clear, I’m not saying they are wrong, I’m just remarking on the total lack of trust people have for the media. This bolsters the findings by a Knight-Gallup poll earlier in the year that found 66% of Americans thought the media could not separate truth from opinion and only 34% had a positive view of the media.
If the top line isn’t bad enough, just dig into the details:
- 70% say that “traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false, or purposely misleading.”
Consider the impact of that for a moment. We’ve long chronicled “name that party” stories where an indicted Democrat politician’s political affiliation will often be omitted from a news story while a Republican will be identified as such in the lede. That is merely misleading. It is calculated to push into the consciousness of readers that Republicans are corrupt (they may be, but no moreso than Democrats). The reliance on anonymous, single source leaks to fuel major stories indicates that the media more than likely has a strong suspicion that the story is inaccurate but wants to run it anyway.
- 65% say fake news is usually reported because “people have an agenda.”
Again, look at the negative stories on the Trump administration. Does anyone really think that when Josh Rogin reported a mass walkout of State Department staff or a shouting match between John Kelly and Steve Bannon that he made and honest mistake? Of course not. The stories were calculated to feed a media narrative based on the Sally Yates incident: the noble civil servant refusing the serve the lawless Trump administration.
If you want an explanation for why Democrats are more credulous than any other group, other than confirmation bias, this is your answer:
Nearly half of Democrats (43%) say they use a fact-checking website (e.g. FactCheck.org or Snopes.com) to verify facts compared to 30% of Republicans and 29% of independents.
If you consult Snopes or FactCheck or PolitFact and actually believe what you read there you will probably believe just about anything.
The media may have been losing credibility but there is no doubt that the Trump administration’s daily pushback on stories has had a significant effect.
Which brings us to part two of the story. The combined effect of public distrust and administration pushback:
According to Nielsen Media Research for the week of June 18 to June 24, Fox News continued to dominate the other cable news networks by ranking number one in both total day and primetime ratings. MSNBC fell slightly behind at number two in both categories.
Fox News earned its 24th consecutive week on top of basic cable with 1,465,000 average daily viewers. They also earned 2,513,000 average primetime viewers for the week.
CNN, meanwhile, trailed far behind both of its news competitors, ranking 13th in primetime and 7th in total day. In primetime, CNN lost to HGTV, Investigation Discovery, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the Food Network.
The Apple Network is right next to the Food Network in the ratings. How appropriate.
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