Fox Is Least Trusted Name in News. It's Also the Most Trusted.

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 7 2013 1:42 PM

Can Fox Be Both the Least Trusted Name in News, and the Most Trusted? Apparently, Yes.

Steve Doocy, Demi Lovato and Gretchen Carlson visit 'FOX & Friends' at the FOX studios on August 18, 2010 in New York City

Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

A new survey out today from left-leaning Public Policy Polling illustrates the degree to which American voters have absurdly polarized views on the cable and broadcast channels they get their news from—and those they presumably don't. The fractured media landscape in itself isn't exactly breaking news, but the PPP numbers nonetheless provide a stark picture of just how fragmented things have become. To wit: Fox News can stake a claim to being both the most and least trusted news channel in America right now, according one reading of the results. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they trusted the station the most out of all the options, while 39 percent named it as the least trusted. Here's the most-trusted breakdown by who the respondent cast ballots for last year:


And the least-trusted breakdwon:


This is the fourth year of PPP's survey on TV news credibility, and in that time, at least one thing hasn't really changed: "Democrats trust everything except Fox, and Republicans don't trust anything other than Fox," the pollsters write.

Respondents were asked individually about each source, and then asked to choose the source they trusted the most, and the least. While the Fox News numbers are generating the bulk of the poll's headlines, none of the TV news sources in the survey fared particularly well. Of all the outlets listed— NBC, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, Fox News, CBS, PBS, and (yes, really) Comedy Central—only PBS was trusted by more people than it wasn't, 52 percent to 29 percent. The rest found themselves with negative splits:


Given the inclusion of Comedy Central as a news outlet (which, for the record, was the most trusted by only 5 percent of those surveyed, which tied it for last with NBC), it seems plausible that voters surveyed were taking into account their opinions of the stations both as sources of news and commentary. So while the results could speak to either what Americans think of Sean Hannity vs. Rachel Maddow, or Bret Baier vs. Brian Williams, the results fall in line with other polls suggesting that Americans generally have polarized viewing habits and little overall trust in the media.

A Gallup poll from last fall, for example, asked Americans specifically about their trust in U.S. media to report stories accurately, rather than on general impressions of entire stations. They found that 60 percent of Americans have little to no trust in the news media to do their jobs, a record high. That soaring distrust figure was driven in large part by Republicans and independents. And yet another Gallup poll from 2011 found that 60 percent of Americans believe the media overall have a political bias.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.


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