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Photo: stevanovicigor / iStock / Getty Images

Americans view made-up news and information as a bigger problem than other critical issues, including terrorism, immigration, climate change and racism, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

Why it matters: The survey finds that Americans feel more worried today about fake news because it's undermining their trust in key institutions, like government and the media.

The only issues that rank higher than made-up news and information as "very big problems in the country today" are drug addiction, the affordability of health care, the U.S. political system, and the income gap.

By the numbers: An overwhelming majority of Americans (68%) believe made-up news and information has a big impact on their trust in government, according to the survey.

  • More than half (54%) of Americans say it impacts their confidence in other Americans.
  • More than half (51%) say it impacts the ability of political leaders to get work done.

Between the lines: While most Americans blame political leaders and activist groups for creating misinformation over journalists, most say "the news media" is the most responsible for fixing the problem.

  • Republicans blame journalists more for the issue than Democrats, according to the survey.

The big picture: Misinformation has always existed in various forms, but the internet era has made the problem harder to stop in real-time.

  • According to the poll, more than half of Americans sometimes come across fake news online, and many report changing their internet habits to lessen their overall intake of fake news as a result.

Our thought bubble: "Fake news" and "misinformation" are abstract terms, which gives people in power — such as President Trump — room to weaponize the term in order to denounce news they don't like. This has dramatically exposed more Americans to the debate around the problems it causes for society, and likely impacts their view of it as an important issue.

What's next: Don't count on the public to be optimistic about the issue ahead of 2020. A majority of those surveyed said they think the problem will get worse over time.

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.