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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

For 20 years, Harris Poll has been measuring the reputations of the most high-profile American companies. This year, for the first time, people mentioned the U.S. government as a "company" that they think about — and they hate it.

Why it matters: The fact that people would bring it up unprompted — and then give it the lowest score of the 100 companies on the list — suggests that Americans aren't just unimpressed with their government. They think it's a toxic waste dump.

  • That's the biggest surprise of this year's Axios Harris Poll 100, a new partnership between Axios and Harris Poll.
  • The U.S. government was near the bottom in all of the categories the poll uses to calculate the score — especially on ethics, trust, culture, vision and citizenship.
  • No partisan divide on this one: Republicans ranked the government #95 out of the 100 companies, Democrats ranked it #98, and independents put it dead last.

Between the lines: It's not any one disaster that caused this. Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema says it's the endless barrage of bad political news — from the Russia investigation to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to the fights over President Trump's border wall.

  • "They're just fed up — fed up with the shutdowns, the subpoenas, the wall," Gerzema said. "It comes out as one perpetual negative news cycle ... [that] really drives down your reputation."
  • It's amplified by constant coverage on cable news and social media.
  • And it affects all three branches of government, Gerzema said — the executive branch with the investigations, Congress with the shutdowns, and the judiciary with the Kavanaugh hearings.

But Trump is at the center of most of this. None of these storylines would have happened without him.

  • It's not like Congress suddenly got worse than it's been over the last 20 years — it was already at rock bottom.
  • Same with the federal bureaucracies. We've been through wars and government shutdowns. Bill Clinton even got impeached.
  • And think of it this way: the U.S. government ranked just two slots below the Trump Organization. (Its overall score was 48.6 out of 100, compared to 50.1 for the Trump Organization.)

There's bad news for actual companies, too. Facebook's ranking took a big hit. So did Tesla. Twitter showed up on the list for the first time, and it's near the bottom.

  • But there's great news for Samsung and Sony, both of which moved way up in the rankings since last year.
  • The top five: Wegman's, Amazon, Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and Walt Disney — all of which were rated highly on qualities like vision, growth, trajectory, character and ethics.
  • Rounding out the bottom five: Wells Fargo, Sears, and Phillip Morris.

The bottom line: The U.S. government has a worse reputation than a bank with a fake accounts scandal, a failing retail chain, and a tobacco company. It's going to take years to recover from that.

Go deeper: Check out all 100 company scores.

Methodology: The Axios Harris Poll 100 survey was conducted November through January in a nationally representative sample. One group, 6,118 U.S. adults, was asked to identify the two companies they believe have the best and worst reputations. Then, the 100 “most visible companies” were ranked by a second group of 18,228 adults across key measures of corporate reputation.

Go deeper

The social media addiction bubble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.

Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.

Young people's next big COVID test

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Young, healthy people will be at the back of the line for coronavirus vaccines, and they'll have to maintain their sense of urgency as they wait their turn — otherwise, vaccinations won't be as effective in bringing the pandemic to a close.

The big picture: "It’s great young people are anticipating the vaccine," said Jewel Mullen, associate dean for health equity at the University of Texas. But the prospect of that enthusiasm waning is "a cause for concern," she said.

8 hours ago - World

New Zealand authorities charge 13 parties over deadly volcano eruption

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at New Zealand's parliament in Wellington. Photo: Mark Tantrum Photography via Getty Images

New Zealand authorities laid safety violation charges Monday against 10 organizations and three individuals over the fatal Whakaari/White Island volcanic disaster last December, per a statement from the agency WorksSafe.

Details: WorksSafe declined to name those charged as they may seek name suppression in court. But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said government agencies GNS Science, which monitors volcanic activity, and the National Emergency Management Agency were among those charged over the "horrific tragedy" that killed 22 people.