It's no secret that most Americans don't hold the mainstream media in high regard, but the latest numbers show media among the least-trusted institutions in the country. The Gallup survey reveals just 16% of Americans trust television news, and just 21% trust newspapers, both down slightly from last year. At the same time, cable news ratings are down across-the-board this year, led by CNN's whopping 68% decline in prime time.
This should serve as a massive wake-up call for networks and newspapers, according to Jeff McCall, media studies professor at DePauw University. "Media organizations need to do some real serious introspection, look in the mirror, and try to figure out why the average citizens in the United States don't trust them anymore," he says.
The low numbers for the media span all political parties, meaning they have managed to alienate all sides. Conservatives don't trust the media because of its liberal bias, while the left is now turning on media outlets for not being "woke" enough. "Most of the mainstream media are not able to rein themselves in from their leftward ideological tendencies," says McCall. "And interestingly, the people on the left don't appreciate them for what they are doing."
One of the biggest factors McCall cites in eroding media trust is the series of high-profile blunders and errors made by big media in recent years, like falsely reporting that President Trump tear-gassed protesters outside the White House, or hyping the Trump-Russia collusion narrative. "CNN and MSNBC made huge livings promoting the Russia collusion story," says McCall. "It's no wonder people on the right or left would look at that and say for two-and-a-half years we were told there's evidence in plain sight, which never materialized."
It will be difficult to repair this massive trust gap with Americans, but McCall doubts the media will even try. "I don't think the big media corporations even want to fix it," he tells KTRH. "This is really kind of their condescending approach, that they know better than what the audience wants."