The American people are very skeptical of “fake news” in the Old Media. A new Monmouth University poll asked respondents “Do you think some traditional major news sources like TV and newspapers ever report fake news stories, or not?”
A whopping 77 percent of those polled said Yes – 31 percent said it happens regularly, and 46 percent said it happens occasionally. (That was up from 63 percent who said Yes a year ago.) Only 21 percent said they did not offer fake news, down from 32 percent a year ago.
The Monmouth pollsters also asked “Do you think these sources report these stories on purpose in order to push an agenda or do they tend to report them more by accident or because of poor fact checking?” On that, 42 percent picked “push an agenda,” 26 percent went with “poor fact checking,” and seven percent said “both equally.”
Poll questions like this don’t specify what kind of “fake news” is being discussed, but it suggests people are skeptical on stories of political importance. It might be the perception that the network evening news shows have aired 1,400 minutes-plus since the Inauguration obsessing over the probe into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, which is still unproven.
This question was interesting: "When you use the term fake news, does it only apply to stories where the facts are wrong or does it also apply to how news outlets make editorial decisions about what they choose to report?" On this, 25 percent said it's only about incorrect facts; but 65 percent defined it as how news outlets choose stories. These media consumers say it's not that the media are careless with facts. It might be that they are choosing to use a few carefully chosen facts to speculate on how terribly things are going to go for Trump and the Republicans. Or the Bernie voters who think the media ignore facts that offend multinational corporations.
The poll also found 86 percent believe that online news websites also report fake news, which is up slightly from 80% in March 2017. But the media elites would agree with that answer.
The Monmouth pollsters asked about which source you trust more as a “source of information,” Donald Trump or the individual cable news networks. This is a dicier question, since Trump has demonstrated in his political career that he’s too often not a reliable source of facts.
Asked to decide between CNN and Trump, 48 percent picked CNN and 35 percent Trump (13 percent “both equally”). With MSNBC, it was 45 percent for the network, 32 percent Trump (16 percent “both equally.”) On Fox News and Trump, who often agree on what’s going on, it was much different: 20 percent picked Trump, 30 percent Fox, and 37 percent picked “both equally.”