The Dominant Media Admit They Have Little Credibility

"Only 6 percent of people truly trust the media, according to a [2016] study by the Media Insight Project, a partnership of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute" (Rex W. Huppke, "Trust in media is a matter of 'factpinion,'" Chicago Tribune, April 19, 2016, section 1, p. 2).

"According to the...[2015] State of the First Amendment survey, just 24% say they believe that the news media try to report without bias, down from 41% last year and a record low" (Ken Paulson, "News Media Lose Trust, Gain Allies," USA Today, July 2-5, 2015, p. 11A).

According to the 2014 General Social Survey: "a record low of 7 percent [of Americans] have a lot of confidence [in the media], while 44 percent have hardly any confidence at all" (Emily Swanson, "Americans show record low confidence in government," Chicago Tribune, March 12, 2015, section 1, p. 18).

According to a 2012 Gallup Poll (Americans' Confidence in Television News Drops to New Low), "Americans' confidence in television news is at a new low....Confidence in newspapers [also continues its downward trend and] is now half of what it was at its peak of 51% in 1979."

Newsweek's Howard Fineman admitted, in the March 22, 2010 edition of the magazine, that "almost no one likes or trusts the media. The latest Gallup survey of respected institutions puts us down with the worst of the riffraff" (http://www.newsweek.com/id/234927). Is it any wonder, considering all the hypocritical, judgmental liberal bigots in the media who have no problem discriminating in favor of liberals and liberal propaganda whilst discriminating against and censoring conservatives and conservative ideas?

According to a 2008 study titled "The State of the News Media," by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, part of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism: "The 20-year trend of public dissatisfaction with the press showed few signs of reversing course in 2007. Majorities of Americans continued to say that journalists are often inaccurate (55%), do not care about the people they report on (53%), are biased (55%), one-sided (66%) and try to cover up their mistakes (63%). Those sentiments, all more prevalent than in the 1980s, have become entrenched."

A 2004 study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that "trust in news sources is down drastically [from past years]."1

According to a nationwide 2002 Harris Poll that asked members of the general public which professions they placed the most trust in, which professionals they most trusted to tell them the truth, journalists did not fare well at all. Even accountants and the clergy fared better, which is somewhat surprising given the numerous scandals involving accountants and the clergy in 2001 and 2002. As a Chicago Tribune editor, Charles M. Madigan, succinctly put it: "if you are...a journalist, you should probably just assume that you come across [to the public] as a liar."2

Through the years other polls and surveys and writers have drawn attention to the lack-of-credibility problem re journalists. What follows are some examples.

The Chicago Tribune's Bob Greene noted the public's "distrust of the news media...[more specifically,] the public's growing disillusionment with newspapers and TV newscasts, the public's disdain for the way reporters and editors put the news together, the public's willingness to disbelieve the news."3

WMAQ radio news vice president Joel Cheatwood: "Audiences are close to saying [to TV news teams], 'We don't care what you're doing anymore....Your act has worn very thin.'"4

Steven Brill: "A recent string of increasingly negative public opinion polls...certainly indicate growing resentment toward the news media."5

U.S. News & World Report's John Leo: "A 1996 poll found that only 21 percent of readers have a 'great deal of confidence' in newspapers, down from 35 percent in 1989. In general, the polls are stunningly negative about the news business."6

The Chicago Tribune's Tim Jones: "readers and viewers are continuing to slip away...[because of] the public's declining faith in the news media, as chronicled for years in poll after poll."7

According to a 1996 poll by the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs, "nearly half of the public [44%] believes the news media are 'often inaccurate.'"8

"A recent Harris poll...showed most people regard journalists as biased, cynical, and annoying....[It] is ultimately up to journalists themselves to win back the trust they have all too obviously lost."9

According to a 1997 Roper Center survey, 63% of Americans think the news is too manipulated by special interests and 52% think the news is too biased. "[T]here is a distrust of newspapers, television and radio as a whole....[O]nly 2% said...[they totally trusted] newspaper reporters, and just 5% said they totally trusted network TV news anchors."10

The Chicago Tribune's Frank James and Tom Hardy note "a growing sense among the electorate that Hollywood and the media are somehow to blame for an increasing collection of problems, among them violence among young people."11

Tom Brokaw commented on the media's ruined reputations: "We wonder why so many people hold us [journalists and politicians] both in such low esteem."12

And another poll result: "One of the most pronounced trends revealed by the [University of Chicago's annual] survey was a sharp increase in those who say they have little confidence in the news media....[T]hat loss of confidence nearly doubled between 1973 and 1996 for television journalism, it nearly tripled for the print media."13

CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg: "'people don't like or trust TV reporters.'"14

The Chicago Sun-Times's James Ledbetter: "Public esteem for the media is at an all-time low."15

Michael Barone, senior writer for U.S. News & World Report: "a profession even more disliked than politics: journalism."16

A Chicago Tribune editorial: "Gallup polling suggests that only 21 percent of Americans credit journalists with having high ethics----ranking them just below auto mechanics, and tied with members of Congress."17

According to a 1995 survey, the approval rating for the news media "was the worst approval rating of any group measured--even lower than the ratings for elected officials and lawyers."18

Chicago Tribune editor Don Wycliff, early in 2001, wrote about the "industrywide concern that newspapers were not only being read less, but were also being believed less by those who read them....[T]hat worry is no mere figment of the fevered imaginations of editors. It is very real and quite persistent....[T]he cynicism [toward newspapers] that so many readers manifest [is a continuing problem]."19

According to former CBS and NBC correspondent Marvin Kalb, the news media are experiencing "a steady decline in journalistic quality and values....The incentives in the news business, as currently arranged, run in the direction of a further maximization of corporate profits and minimization of interest in the public welfare."20

"As a [2005] Gallup Poll taken shortly after [hurricane] Katrina shows, trust in the media has fallen to its lowest annual level ever....In the same poll, a solid 46% said the media are 'too liberal.' Just 16% said 'too conservative.'"21

From a 2010 Chicago Sun-Times editorial: "Polls show journalists are loathed by much of the public, ranking down in the basement with lawyers."22

From a 2012 Newsweek piece by Howard Kurtz: There is "corrosive distrust of the news business today."23

According to a September 2013 Gallup survey: "Americans' confidence in the accuracy of the mass media has improved slightly after falling to an all-time low last year [2012]....[Also] far more Americans say the media are too liberal than too conservative, 46% vs. 13%....Although up from the all-time low found last year, Americans' confidence in the mass media remains lower than it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their confidence began to decline in 2005 and has been lower since. The decline over that period is apparent among Democrats, independents, and Republicans."

According to a June 2014 Gallup survey: “Americans' faith in each of three major news media platforms---television news, newspapers, and news on the Internet---is at or tied with record lows in Gallup's long-standing confidence in institutions trend.”

We've got more such quotes, but you get the picture. The media are contributing to the decline of this country and they are paying a price for it. Until the media, i.e., until Hollywood and the dominant TV and radio networks and magazines and newspapers, are run by decent people with decent values, let us continue to abandon and denigrate them. Someday we may get through their thick skulls and they may reform themselves and hire fairer, wiser personnel.

We'll end this section with this quote from veteran Chicago newspaper columnist Michael Sneed: "we journalists wind up on the bottom of public opinion polls weighing respected professions."24 Amen.

Footnotes

1. John Cook, "Appetite for news on wane, study concludes," Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2004, section 1, p. 10.

2. Charles M. Madigan, "Teachers top poll's list of truth-tellers," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 8, 2002, sec. 2, p. 8.

3. Bob Greene, "Some young eyes can lower the wall between media, public," Chicago Tribune, July 8, 1998, sec. 5, p. 1.

4. Steve Johnson, "First, the bad news," Chicago Tribune, Jan. 19, 1998, sec. 5, p. 6.

5. Steven Brill, "Magazine plans to take hard look at the inquisitor," Chicago Tribune, April 5, 1998, sec. 5, p. 1.

6. John Leo, "Elephant in the living room," U.S. News & World Report, April 20, 1998, p. 18.

7. Tim Jones, "Picture of health, yet unease is growing," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 2, 1997, sec. 5, p. 1.

8. Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 14, 1996, p. 16.

9. Lewis Lord, "Perils of 'gotcha' journalism," U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 3, 1997, p. 11.

10. Judith Valente, "Do You Believe What Newspeople Tell You?", Parade, March 2, 1997, p. 4.

11. Frank James and Tom Hardy, "All 4 networks sign on to pact," Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1996, sec. 1, p. 1.

12. Tom Brokaw, "Why You Didn't Watch," Newsweek, Aug. 26, 1996, p. 25.

13. Rogers Worthington, "Poll finds education spending, civil liberties gaining support," Chicago Tribune, Oct. 8, 1996, sec. 1, p. 19.

14. John Leo, "Prime Time 'Gotcha' Journalism," U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 19, 1996, p. 29.

15. James Ledbetter, "Is the Pot Calling the Kettle Black," Chicago Sun-Times, Feb. 11, 1996, p. 16.

16. Michael Barone, U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 19, 1996, p. 15.

17. Chicago Tribune editorial, "Ethics, trust and journalism," Apr. 11, 2001, sec. 1, p. 14.

18. U.S. News & World Report, May 13, 1996, p. 40.

19. Don Wycliff, "Gaining the confidence of readers," Chicago Tribune, Apr. 5, 2001, sec. 1, p. 25.

20. Todd Gitlin, "Clinton-Lewinsky and the news media," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 16, 2001, sec. 14, p. 7.

21. "Stuck on stupid," Investor's Business Daily, Sept. 28, 2005, p. A12.

22. Editorial, "Palin's new neighbor is a creep," Chicago Sun-Times, June 3, 2010, p. 23.

23. Howard Kurtz, "Walter Cronkite Would Be Fired Today," Newsweek, May 28, 2012, p. 42.

24. Michael Sneed, "The black page," Chicago Sun-Times, Apr. 21, 2004, p. 4.