by Mary Kate Cary

This just in from the Gallup organization: Americans’ distrust of the media has just hit a  new record, with six in 10 Americans saying they have “little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.” Forty percent say they have a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust, and I assume this is the same crowd who approve of the job Congress is doing. Where do they find these people?

Gallup says the 20-point difference between positive and negative views of the media is “by far” the highest Gallup has seen since it began asking the question in the 1990s. Among those who trust the media, 58 percent identify themselves as Democrats; 26 percent as Republicans; and most interestingly, 31 percent as independents. That means 69 percent of independents don’t trust the media.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the implications of that:

This year’s decline in media trust is driven by independents and Republicans. Independents are sharply more negative compared with 2008, suggesting the group that is most closely divided between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney is quite dissatisfied with its ability to get fair and accurate news coverage of this election.

On the NBC News homepage for politics, there is a chart looking the number of mentions of each candidate on social media: As of yesterday, 30 percent who state an intention to vote for a candidate on social media sites intend to vote for Obama; 38 percent intend to vote for Romney. There have been nearly 33,000 opinions expressed about Obama: Of those, 40 percent are positive, 60 percent negative. Regarding Romney, 21,500 opinions have been posted: 51 percent positive, 49 percent negative. If these numbers are accurate, it tells me this: People aren’t agreeing with what they’re seeing and hearing from the mainstream media. And they feel strongly enough to post something online about it.

I feel the same way—I’ve gotten to the point where I tune out much of the political coverage because it makes my blood pressure so high. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. On that same homepage at NBC News, here are the headlines for today:

1. Romney paid 14.1 percent effective tax rate in 2011
2. Obama’s battleground advantage grows
3. Obama hits Romney on 47 percent: ‘I don’t see a lot of victims’
4. Ryan gets boos at AARP conference
5. Polls: Obama ahead in Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin
6. Obama swipes at Romney over ’47 percent’ comments

And yet we know that Romney also gave away $4 million last year to charity; that there are just as many polls showing Romney within the margin of error as show Obama ahead; and that Ryan was also applauded at the AARP conference—but there is no mention of those in the headlines. Apparently NBC feels we need to be reminded twice that Obama disagrees with Romney’s ’47 percent’ comment.

Really? Only six in 10 have a problem with this?

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This article was originally published in U.S. News & World Report on Sept. 21, 2012. 


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