Wednesday of last week Public Policy Polling released their third annual TV news trust poll. Drum draws his own graph, but he includes this great Paul Waldman anecdote that strikes a familiar tone (my emphasis in bold):
While I was in the car yesterday I turned to a conservative talk radio station, which I recommend all liberals do from time to time. The host, whom I didn’t recognize, brought up some innocuous piece of news reporting that appeared in the Politico. As you know if you care about these things, the Politico is a complicated media entity. On one hand, they employ a lot of reporters and they sometimes break interesting stories. On the other hand, they’re almost a parody of the inside dope-obsessed Washington media, which finds the question of whether Eric Cantor’s press secretary and John Boehner’s press secretary are feuding far more compelling than, say, the question of what effects cuts in Medicaid would have on struggling Americans. But when this conservative talk show host mentioned the Politico, he found it necessary to refer to it as “the left-wing rag the Politico.”
Here in Washington, almost no one in either party is crazy enough to think that the Politico is actually a left-wing rag, an ideologically-motivated news outlet whose purpose is to advance the liberal cause. And whether this talk show host’s listeners know or care much about it in particular isn’t my point. My point is this: If you are a consumer of conservative media, you get constant reminders — every day, multiple times a day — that you absolutely must not believe anything you hear or read in any news outlet that is not explicitly conservative.
I’m not an ideologue, and my political views are somewhat mixed, so I’m not exactly the target segment for a Boortz or Levine. Nevertheless I routinely tune to the local AM talk radio station – partly because it’s a small town and they do local news – because the sociology student in me finds conservative talk radio fascinating. So Waldman’s account is pretty similar to my own experience, and makes the results of the PPP poll a little unsurprising:
Republican’s really like Fox News, of course. A secondary note of interest is to see that Democrat’s find PBS most trustful, followed closely by ABC, but the network (MSNBC) that is doing the most to court liberal viewers finds itselft in a lackluster second-to-last place.
Here’s how the networks break down in most and leasted trusted overall:
The lead-off in the release from PPP was that Fox News represented the most and least trusted TV news outlet – actually a statistical tie at 34% in each category. The second highest least-trusted source is, with little shock, MSNBC. What piques my interest is the level of relative disdain for NBC. Their staple news show is Nightly News hosted by Brian Williams, who’s also pulling double-duty with the new Rock Center. I find little in either of these shows – Nightly News in particular – to warrant such distrust. Especially considering that the second most-trusted show is PBS, which showcases their excellence in general news staidly with The NewsHour, is the same format as Nightly News.