Public Policy Polling just released their 4th annual poll on the measure of trust Americans have in TV news. Like previous polls, Fox News topped both the “most trusted” and “least trusted” categories. However, the striking thing about this year’s poll is that Fox dipped to a record low in viewer trust and lost a huge amount of the trust by Independents. From the poll:
“Fox News has hit a record low in the four years that we’ve been doing this poll. 41% of voters trust it to 46% who do not. To put those numbers into some perspective the first time we did this poll, in 2010, 49% of voters trusted it to 37% who did not. Fox has maintained most of its credibility with Republicans, dropping just from 74/15 to 70/15 over that period of time. But it’s been losing what standing it had with Democrats (from 30/52 to 22/66) and independents (from 41/44 to 32/56).
“We find once again this year that Democrats trust everything except Fox, and Republicans don’t trust anything other than Fox. Democrats put the most faith in PBS (+61 at 72/11), followed by NBC (+45 at 61/16), MSNBC (+39 at 58/19), CBS (+38 at 54/16), CNN (+36 at 57/21), ABC (+35 at 51/16), and Comedy Central (+10 at 38/28). Out of the non-Fox channels Republicans have the most faith in PBS at -21 (27/48), followed by NBC (-48 at 18/66), CNN (-49 at 17/66), ABC (-56 at 14/70), MSNBC (-56 at 12/68), CBS (-57 at 15/72), and Comedy Central (-58 at 8/66).
When it comes to asking Americans which single outlet they trust the most and least out of the ones we polled on, Fox News once again wins both honors. 34% say it’s the one they trust the most, compared to 13% for PBS, 12% for CNN, 11% for ABC, 8% for MSNBC, 6% for CBS, and 5% each for Comedy Central and NBC. Fox News is the choice of 67% of Republicans, while Democrats basically split their allegiances four ways between ABC and CNN, both at 17%, and MSNBC and PBS, both at 16%.”
Even more Americans identify Fox News as the outlet they trust the least – 39% give it that designation [compared] to 14% for MSNBC, 13% for CNN, 12% for Comedy Central, 5% for ABC and CBS, 3% for NBC, and 1% for PBS. 60% of Democrats give it their lowest marks while Republicans split between MSNBC (24%), CNN (19%), and Comedy Central (14%) on that front.
The fact that Fox comes out on top of the “most trusted” list is not particularly noteworthy. That only occurred because Fox viewers voted en bloc for their favorite network while all other viewers split their votes across the board. Liberals are not as hypnotically attached to any single source of news as are the disciples of Fox. It is far more significant that Fox has a net negative rating despite the glassy-eyed devotion of their audience. Also significant is the fact that the combined non-Fox networks beat Fox for trustworthiness by 60% to 34%. Finally, the sharply downward trend has to have Fox worried.
This massive leak of faith in Fox is accompanied by their corresponding unpopularity as measured by their Nielsen ratings. The most recent numbers showed Fox dropping to a twelve year low, which puts them back at their position prior to 9/11.
The collapse of Fox is also occurring at a time when their competition at MSNBC is enjoying double-digit gains. The trends have all been severely negative as far as Fox is concerned, and this new poll affirms that direction.
Fox seems to be aware of the danger they are in and have been making some adjustments to their roster. They already flushed Sarah Palin and Dick Morris down the drain. However, they do not appear to be shifting their tone in any noticeable manner. Those expulsions were counteracted by the acquisition of far-right crackpots like Erick Erickson and screeching extremists like Mark Levin.
Consequently, there won’t be any real difference in the faulty news product that Fox broadcasts. They seem wedded to the ultra-conservative fringe philosophy that is bringing them, and their benefactors in the GOP, crashing down. They are operating with an acute case of tunnel blindness that is driving viewers away. And for that, I suppose, we should all be grateful.