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The Numbers Are In – Americans Distrust Media

The declining trust in the media has been exacerbated by the evidence of hoaxes and false narratives.

by | Apr 20, 2021 | Articles, Exclusive Member, Media

Americans’ resentment against the media rates on a par with their distrust of and dissatisfaction with Congress. One after another, polls show that folks no longer trust traditional media outlets.

A report released by the American Press Institute surveyed opinions on “core journalistic values” and confirmed the media’s sinking reputation. Notably, the report points out that, despite the deep ideological divide in attitudes toward the media, journalists continue to deny that the slanted news they present is intended to help one party over the other.

The report also assessed partisan attitudes toward journalistic values, demonstrating that liberals tend to align more with moral values like care and fairness while conservatives favor loyalty, authority, and purity. The study also revealed how, overall, Democrats are more aligned with journalistic interests than Republicans. This, of course, brings up the question of whether the media’s journalistic values are unbiased or even desirable. Who decided that journalism’s primary job was to give voice to the less powerful or present social criticisms rather than report objectively on news?

The declining trust in the media has been exacerbated by the evidence of the hoaxes and false narratives that have been pushed shamelessly in print and on TV. The inflammatory coverage of stories like the Russian bounty on American soldiers, the Jussie Smollett racial attack, Russian collusion, and the peaceful Black Lives Matter riots contributed to the public’s disenchantment with powerful news sources.

But remember, such hoaxes and mischaracterizations were pushed with a moral and political objective in mind. The Smollett hoax was used to indict the racist American electorate that voted for Donald Trump, and Russian collusion was an elaborate excuse for the Democratic Party’s loss of the 2016 election.

For years, mainstream media have made truth-defying arguments for partisan purposes. Lester Holt, an influential anchor on NBC, supported the idea that journalists should push a story however they see fit; “fairness is overrated,” he declared. We expect political bias in inherently political jobs, but journalists embracing the cloak of neutrality while outright advocating for the censure and destruction of the other side is pure partisanship

Noam Chomsky’s 1988 book Manufacturing Consent criticized the American media’s support for neoliberal interventionism. While the political sands have shifted since then, corporate media’s alliance with the wealthy and ruling class remains intact. The difference is this time corporations and media conglomerates are aligned with the liberal media. It seems all the propaganda pushed about the Democratic Party supporting grassroots activism and social equality and the Republican Party being for the elite and ultra-rich may not be anchored in fact. In the 2020 election, Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee raised almost 50% more money from Wall Street than Trump and the Republican National Committee. This won’t surprise those already skeptical of media spin on class interests and politics but may be confounding to anyone who has swallowed the line that liberalism is the scrappy political underdog in America. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Read more from Jose Backer.

Read More From Jose Backer

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