Fox News: The TV source Americans trust the most AND the least

The Fox News Channel is simultaneously America’s most trusted news source and its least, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling. Now, if the very same Americans said they both trusted and distrusted Fox, that might have suggested the channel is as perfectly fair and balanced as its executives claim. That is, if conservatives and liberals alike trusted half the information Fox provided and distrusted the other half, a plausible explanation would be that Fox provided liberal and conservative commentary in equal measure. Unfortunately for Fox, that’s not the case here. Instead, the breakdown is predictable: Republicans overwhelmingly trust Fox, while Democrats regard the cable news channel with a wary eye.

Fox is the most trusted TV news source for 34% of voters, followed by PBS at 17%, CNN at 12%, ABC News at 11%, CBS News at 8%, MSNBC at 5%, and Comedy Central and NBC each at 4%.

68% of Republicans pick Fox as their most trusted source, with no one else even hitting double digits. Democrats split closely three ways with PBS at 21%, ABC News at 19%, and CNN at 17%. Despite having a reputation for appealing to the left MSNBC actually polls in only 6th place among Democrats at 8%, finishing slightly behind even Fox News’ 9%. Independents split almost evenly between Fox News (29%) and PBS (27%).

Fox is also the least trusted TV news source for 34% of voters, followed by Comedy Central at 16%, MSNBC at 15%, CNN at 11%, ABC News at 7%, CBS News at 5%, PBS at 2%, and NBC News at 1%.

Democrats (53-17 over Comedy Central) and independents (44-13 over Comedy Central) both overwhelmingly say Fox is their least trusted news source. Republicans go for MSNBC by a 28-23 margin over CNN, followed by Comedy Central at 18% and ABC News at 10%.

The poll also asked whether folks trusted each individual source.  PBS was the only news source that a majority of those polled said they trust. A plurality of voters also said they trust CNN, NBC and Fox. The rest of the sources run an explicit trust deficit; more individuals said they don’t trust them than said they do.

The sample skewed conservative and Democrat, with a liberal/moderate/conservative breakdown of 28/27/44 and a Democrat/Independent/Republican breakdown of 41/24/35.

In general, the directors of PPP say this poll suggests TV news has become every bit as polarized as the political parties in this country. “Television news has become just as polarizing as the politicians themselves,” PPP president Dean Debnam said in a press release. “Democrats trust everything except Fox News, while Republicans trust nothing except Fox News.”

To me, the poll serves as a timely reminder to check a diversity of sources to ensure a well-rounded perspective on the world. Realistically, time constraints and the general demands of life often preclude the casual media consumer from checking a multiplicity of sources, but that doesn’t mean consumers can’t switch it up occasionally.