Poll: 60 Percent of Americans Think Media Reports Fake News

New survey finds constant press melee with Trump taking a serious toll on its credibility

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 30 Mar 2017 at 8:43 AM

New evidence suggests the news media, already beset by a historic lack of trust among the American public, is now downright viewed as pushing false material.

Approximately 60 percent of Americans believe traditional news outlets have reported “fake news,” according to the results of a Monmouth University Poll released Wednesday.

“Many Americans believe that fake news is rampant across all types of media. The main outcome of this phenomenon seems to be that all news media outlets are now eyed with suspicion.”

Of those who believe traditional media outlets report “fake news” stories, 27 percent suspect the act occurs regularly, while 36 percent think it happens occasionally. In addition, 39 percent of Americans say these news outlets — both print and television — push “fake news” stories because those stories correspond with a political agenda. Meanwhile, 17 percent say the publishing of “fake news” stories occurs accidentally.

“Many Americans believe that fake news is rampant across all types of media. The main outcome of this phenomenon seems to be that all news media outlets are now eyed with suspicion,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, according to the poll’s release.

Online news outlets took an even greater hit in the Monmouth University Poll, with a total of 80 percent indicating that they believe “fake news” is published by those sources. Of that 80 percent, 41 percent said those stories are published regularly, while 39 percent believe it happens on occasion.

“Republicans (79%) and independents (66%) are more likely than Democrats (43%) to say that major media outlets transmit fake news stories,” Monmouth University polling noted in its statement. “The difference is less stark for online news sites — 87% of Republicans, 83% of independents, and 72% of Democrats say these sources circulate fake news.”

Of the 80 percent who believe online new sites publish “fake news” stories, 54 percent say the organizations do so deliberately in order to promote a political agenda. Approximately 57 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats say online organizations publish “fake news” intentionally. Just 17 percent of Americans say the publishing of those stories happens due to sloppy reporting or by accident.

The Monmouth University Poll also probed respondents about their thoughts regarding President Donald Trump’s relationship to the media.

Approximately 81 percent of American say that Trump has experienced a far worse relationship with the press than other presidents. Only four percent believe Trump enjoys a more amiable relationship to the media than his predecessors, while 12 percent believe the relationship is the same. Roughly 58 percent of respondents say the strained relationship has harmed Trump’s image, while only seven percent believe it has boosted it. About 32 percent say Trump’s image is independent of his relationship with the media.

The melee with Trump has taken its toll on the perception of the press.

Roughly 51 percent say the image of the media has been damaged, while just six percent say their image as been bolstered by their relationship with Trump. Thirty-nine percent believe the relationship does not affect the media’s overall image.

"It is an understatement to say the new administration's relationship with the fourth estate … cannot be characterized as friendly or even respectful," Murray added. "This ugliness has hurt each side's reputation."

The results of the  poll, which was conducted among 801 adults from March 2 to March 5, were released the same day Trump issued two tweets about the media’s recent coverage of him.

"Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!" Trump tweeted. "If the people of our great country could only see how viciously and inaccurately my administration is covered by certain media!"

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