Most Americans Now Say Mainstream Media Often Report ‘Fake News’

Monmouth poll found much higher percentages of Republicans, Democrats, independents lack confidence in journalists' objectivity

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 03 Apr 2018 at 7:00 AM

More than three-quarters of those surveyed believe mainstream media outlets are reporting and spreading “fake news,” including 31 percent who believe it happens “regularly,” according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday.

“Traditional major news sources like TV and newspapers” report fake news, 77 percent of the respondents said, compared to the 63 percent of Americans who thought last year that news outlets reported fake news at least occasionally, said the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Of the 77 percent who now say media outlets report fake news, 31 percent said they do so “regularly” while 46 percent said they do so “occasionally.”

“These findings are troubling, no matter how you define ‘fake news,'” said Patrick Murray, the institute’s director. “Confidence in an independent fourth estate is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy. Ours appears to be headed for the intensive care unit.”

Monmouth found that 25 percent of Americans think the term “fake news” applies “only to stories where the facts are wrong” while 65 percent of Americans say that “fake news” also “applies to how news outlets make editorial decisions about what they choose to report.”

“According to the public, fake news is the result of both outside agents trying to plant fabricated stories and the editorial processes of mainstream media outlets that disseminate false narratives. The perception of this problem couldn’t be more pervasive,” Murray said.

The percentage of Republicans who believe major media outlets are reporting fake news jumped from 79 percent in 2017 to 89 percent in 2018, while the percentage of independents who thought the same rose from 66 percent to 82 percent.

Even Democrats experienced a sharp increase from 43 percent to 61 percent.

Monmouth said 42 percent of Americans think media outlets report fake news "on purpose in order to push an agenda," while 26 percent think it occurs "more by accident or because of poor fact-checking." These percentages are up from 39 percent and 17 percent, respectively, in 2017.

Related: Study Finds Media's 2018 'Lopsided and Hostile' Trump Coverage Is 91 Percent Negative

President Donald Trump repeatedly has railed against mainstream media outlets for reporting "fake news" about him, his administration and his supporters. In particular, Trump has highlighted CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post as prime examples of outlets he believes constantly produce questionable coverage.

"So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate. But through it all, our country is doing great!" Trump tweeted March 26.

Trump lashed out at what he called "Fake News Networks" for their criticism of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which reportedly gave dozens of local TV anchors scripts to read, warning against "biased and false news."

"So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke," Trump tweeted.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage image: CNN Center, Atlanta, Georgia, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Ken Lund; photo credit, article image: CNN - No Bias Here, CC BY 2.0, by Josh Hallett)

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