PBS Poll: More Americans Trust Trump Than the Media; 'Horrible Trend'

Monday's PBS NewsHour spotlighted the low trust in the news media, according to the results of their latest poll. Only 30 percent of those surveyed by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist trust the press "a good deal" or "a great amount." The Trump administration scored seven points better in the same poll. Guest Stuart Rothenberg bemoaned the "horrible trend" towards distrust of the media over the past several decades. NPR's Tamara Keith underlined that "these numbers are part of a very long trend of institutions losing trust from the American people; and that...puts America at risk."

Host Judy Woodruff zeroed on the media's poll numbers near the end of the segment with Rothenberg and Keith. She noted that "one of the things we looked at was...[the] high distrust of the news media." After outlining the numbers, she turned to Rothenberg and asserted that "the bottom line here, Stu, is that the media may be a good whipping boy."

The guest replied, "I think the public sees the media as a political institution — just as they see the White House, the President, and Congress." After pointing out the "horrible trend," Rothenberg pointed out "Gallup numbers in the early 1970s...[where] those of us in the media are regarded much worse than we were back then."

Keith responded to the poll results by citing Senator Ben Sasse, who recently lamented that "we are at risk of getting to a place where we don't have a shared set of public facts. A republic will not work if we don't have shared facts." She addded, "These numbers are part of a very long trend of institutions losing trust from the American people; and that...puts America at risk."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Stuart Rothenberg/Tamara Keith segment from the July 3, 2017 edition of PBS NewsHour:

JUDY WOODRUFF: I do want to raise, in our last few minutes, this new CNN — I'm sorry. I had CNN on the brain from the video — the new poll that the NewsHour and NPR did in conjunction with Marist, where one of the things we looked at was what Stu — exactly what you mentioned — high distrust of the news media. More than two-thirds of Americans — they were asked, what do you think about trust in institutions? And here it is: thirty-seven percent, a good deal or a great amount of trust in the Trump administration; thirty percent — even less — trust in the news — in the media; and twenty [nine] — about on the same par as trust in Congress. And you go on to see trust in the intelligence community, twice that much — sixty percent — and in the courts, sixty percent.

But the bottom line here, Stu, is that the media may be a good whipping boy.

STUART ROTHENBERG, INSIDE ELECTIONS: Yeah — and I think the public sees the media as a political institution — just as they see the White House, the President, and Congress — and right now, nobody trusts politicians or people covering politicians. It's a — it's a horrible trend. I look back to Gallup numbers in the early 1970s, and those of us in the media are regarded much worse than we were back then. But it's been occurring over the past couple of decades.

TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Republican Senator Ben Sasse, over the weekend, said something that goes in conjunction with the Tweets; and fits with these numbers, too. He said he was concerned that the President was trying to weaponize distrust. And then, here's the quote: 'We are at risk of getting to a place where we don't have a shared set of public facts. A republic will not work if we don't have shared facts.'

These numbers are part of a very long trend of institutions losing trust from the American people; and that makes — puts America at risk.

Media Bias Debate Labeling Polling PBS News Hour Judy Woodruff Tamara Keith Stuart Rothenberg
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