WASHINGTON, D.C. - You know all those news stories you’ve seen about how Americans’ trust in government, Congress and Wall Street has collapsed in recent years?
Well, guess what. Americans’ trust in news stories themselves has plunged just as much.
The temperature takers over at Gallup did another one of their regular check-ups on how Americans view public institutions in mid-June, and they discovered a giant pox on all our houses.
Let’s kill the messenger first: the news media.
Confidence in television news and newspapers continued a death spiral begun in the early 2000s. Internet news has lost a tiny bit of public confidence in that period, but the important thing is this new platform hasn’t gained any credibility or trust. If news Webheads want some cold comfort, it might be that TV news is now even less trusted – by one statistically irrelevant percentage point.
“Americans hold all news media platforms in low confidence,” the Gallup report notes. “How these platforms can restore confidence with the American public is not clear, especially as editorial standards change and most outlets lack the broad reach once available to major newspapers and broadcasters.”
Now, if we hacks in this declining and disrespected vocation need someone to gloat over, and we do, it would be the U.S. Congress. Here’s the new chart for the dying patient:
They must be so proud.
If members of Congress want to gloat over someone less respected, well, they can’t. This chart compares how our major institutions fare on the confidence scale:
Maybe Congress needs to pass a bill (as if they could!) demanding that Gallup poll about how Americans views drug dealers, loan sharks and Norwegian rats. That would lift Congress’ rating a bit, and they’re used to going negative to boost ratings.
Overall, the military is one of the few institutions that inspires more confidence now than in the 1970s. Public schools, organized labor, the medical system, big business, the Supreme Court and organized religion have all declined, along with the news media.
All of this points to a story so big it is ignored. Perhaps it is because it is too pervasive to be noticed. Or too depressing. But this sentence is true and gets truer: Americans have lost faith in their public institutions. And what kind of public response even seems plausible?
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