Aug 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Conservative trust in media has cratered

Photo illustration of a woman looking suspiciously out blinds made out of newspaper
Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Star Tribune via Getty Images

The percentage of Republicans who say they trust national news organizations has been cut in half over the past five years, according to a new study from Pew Research Center.

Why it matters: The party's trust in media starting dropping when President Trump took office, but has plummeted much more dramatically in the Biden era.

Details: Prior to the Trump administration, both parties had a great deal of trust in the national media, according to Pew. But while Democrats' trust in the national, local and social media continues to hold steady, Republicans' trust in those same institutions has sharply declined.

  • Only 35% of Republicans today say that they trust national news organizations, compared to 70% in 2016.
  • Conservative trust in national news organizations has fallen by 14 percentage points since late 2019, compared to single-digit percentage point drops each year during the Trump era.
  • While Republicans tend to have a higher levels of trust in local outlets, they still trust local media far less than their Democratic counterparts.
  • Both parties have little trust in social media platforms, but about half as many Republicans say they trust the information they get from social media compared to Democrats.

Be smart: Pew's findings echo a similar long-term study from Gallup last year, which found that Democrats' trust in mass media had grown to a near-record high during the Trump era, while Republicans' sunk to an all-time low.

The big picture: The polarization of trust in the media presents one of the most clear and troubling signs for American democracy.

  • While the gap has been widening since the early 2000s, the major shift in Republicans' attitudes in the past five years points to increasing levels of partisanship and division in society.
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