Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our Second Annual TV News Trust Poll

PPP's annual look at the public's trust in various TV news outlets finds that Fox News' credibility is on the decline, that the traditional networks are seeing an up tick in their numbers, and that PBS is at the top of the heap.

Here's how they stack up from highest net trust to worst:




2010 Numbers

Shift from 2010




Not Included

Not Applicable




35/44 (-9)





39/41 (-2)


Fox News



49/37 (+12)





32/46 (-14)





31/46 (-15)


-A year ago a plurality of Americans said they trusted Fox News. Now a plurality of them don't. Conservatives haven't moved all that much- 75% said they trusted it last year and 72% still do this time around. But moderates and liberals have both had a strong increase in their level of distrust for the network- a 12 point gain from 48% to 60% for moderates and a 16 point gain from 66% to 82% for liberals. Voters between left and center tend to be more trusting of the media across the board, which is why a fair number of them were still rating Fox favorably even a year ago at this time. But it looks like with a lot of those folks it has finally crossed the line to being too political to trust.

-All three of the traditional major networks- NBC, CBS, and ABC- have seen an increase in their trust levels over the last year. NBC continues to be the most trusted of the trio, breaking even this year at 41% who trust it and 41% who don't. It may be MSNBC's liberal tilt that vaults its parent network to the top overall. Conservatives distrust all three of the networks at pretty similar levels- 66% for ABC and NBC, 67% for CBS. But liberals range from 52% who trust ABC to 61% who trust CBS all the way up to 67% who trust NBC. It's interesting to see that faith in these long standing organizations is on the rise but it may be that in a new media world where there's so much more information available than there's ever been before folks are looking to places with a proven track record of getting it right.

-Democrats trust everything but Fox. Republicans don't trust anything but Fox. And independents don't trust much of anything. For Democrats 73% trust PBS, 64% NBC, 61% CBS, 60% CNN, 56% ABC, and 22% Fox. For Republicans 67% trust Fox, 29% PBS, 22% CNN, 21% NBC, 17% ABC, and 15% CBS. For independents 44% trust PBS, 36% Fox, 34% CNN, 33% NBC, 27% CBS, and 26% ABC.

I'm sure there's a lot of other interesting stuff digging into these numbers that I haven't even touched on- full results here


Ed said...

Interesting spike for NBC.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that among dems and indies, the ratio of trust between PBS and NBC is about the same, where repubs are way different. of course, defining exactly what is an "independent" is problematic.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting if you had tested MSNBC separate from NBC. While the news source is the same, it would interesting to see what kind of branding MSNBC has established for itself.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"of course, defining exactly what is an "independent" is problematic."

They define themselves as such.

NRH said...

So, basically, Republicans trust their party propaganda outlet and think the entire rest of the world is conspiring against them. Thus is Rupert's Cult able to increasingly isolate its followers from reality (as further demonstrated by the repeated studies showing the high level of counterfactual belief held by Fox viewers, which naturally those viewers disbelieve).

Anonymous said...

Did you lefty hacks notice that ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all had lower trust numbers than Fox? Of course not. I think your moms are calling you to come back up from the basement.

PinnyPed said...

Where's the sampling? As a learned statistician I always look to see what groups make up this poll. Are any groups oversampled? Undersampled? What was the sampling of the previous polls that appear in this story for comparison. Most recently, I find that this important information is missing on the latest polls. Sorry, but without that information contained in the story. this polls, as well as others in the past few weeks are worthless.

Jonny V said...

It's shockingly disgusting to me that 42% of Americans trust Fox News. WTF?! How could that many people be so delusional? Fox News is nothing but far right wing propaganda. It's insane to me that number is above 20%.

This says a lot about what's wrong with America today. Just so many misinformed people...

Anonymous said...

PPP....liberal organization.....notice in their client list that it is all democratic candidates....find me a poll where the pollsters don't have political motivations

Anonymous said...

What a piece of propaganda. The media has lost all credibility. PPP is a leftist organization. Maybe you're leftist sheeple will go along but we independents have known that you were full of it for a long long time. No one believes you any more. Deal with it. Have you no shame or do you need the puppet master's money to survive?

Anonymous said...

The misinformed are not the Fox viewers. They are the folks that believe the lame stream media bullpucky because they don't know any better. Just go to to get your fill of proven liberal media bias in news reporting.

Anonymous said...

I am betting PPS set this poll up a year ago to show Fox "failing" this year. Interesting they don't give the details on who they polled this time around versus the last...

Anonymous said...

garbage in ---garbage out


(proper polling prevents piss poor performance)

Anonymous said...

Most important line:

For independents 44% trust PBS, 36% Fox, 34% CNN, 33% NBC, 27% CBS, and 26% ABC.

Independents are the key to elections. Out of those who were polled would be interesting to see who are actual voters.

Tom Jensen said...

Folks there's a link to the full data on the poll at the end of the post where you can see all the demographics and everything. We're not hiding anything.

Anonymous said...

Two words to explain why trust in FNC is down: Sean Hannity.

You can't lie the way he did about Mike Castle's vote on health care (multiple times) without any correction/apology from the network and not take a hit.

Not only that, O'Reilly had video of Christine O'Donnell that would have eviscerated her excuse that all her loopy remarks were made on "comedy shows" while she was "very young" and he didn't show it.

JMO they have another problem which may not have revealed itself fully yet, but it will. That's having so many potential presidential contenders under "exclusive contract". It makes Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich, Santorum et al corporate assets.

And what does a corporation do with corporate assets? It protects them.

Both Bret Baier and Bill O'Reilly soft-pedaled interviews with Mike Huckabee on the topic of Maurice Clemmons (the Huckabee parolee who killed four police officers). Everything Huckabee says about the Clemmons sentence commutations is technically true. It's what O'Reilly and Baier FAILED TO ASK him that would be a problem for a Huckabee presidential candidacy. They never asked MH about Clemmons's prison record, which was a nightmare. He definitely was not a safe candidate for parole. Despite Clemmons's violent prison record, Huckabee commuted his sentence in a way that made Clemmons eligible for parole the same day Huckabee issued the commutations, and shortly thereafter the parole board let put him back out on the street. And from that day on he was a ticking time bomb.

NRH said...

They're Fox fans. If it doesn't come in a pre-packaged ideologically-vetted sound bite, they don't understand it. Just look at the comments they're leaving on this post.

Anonymous said...

Hey how come they are allowing MSNBC staffers to post hack hit-jobs here?

I will bet red headed "Fat Ed" from the Ed Show posted the hit comments about Sean Hannity on above post...

MSNBC is scum at the bottom of the barrel...don't see mention of them in PPP...hmmmmm?

Anonymous said...

WOW! This is substantial however if this poll is accurate we should be seeing some semblance of a down trend in FOX viewership numbers, no? The same would hold true for the other stations regarding an up-tick in viewership, no? Can anyone source that this is factually happening? No.

In summation polls are like opinions, no? Yes

Anonymous said...

to Anonymous@11:31...I'm the poster who commented about Sean Hannity causing viewer trust in Fox to take a hit and I made my comments as a regular Fox viewer. Think about could I have so much familiarity with the hosts, shows, and specifics if I wasn't a Fox viewer?
Bret Baier's Fox Report is my "don't miss" news hour. My husband won't miss a night of O'Reilly (if he has to miss it at 8pm he tunes in at 11).

I was in shock when Hannity repeatedly lied about Mike Castle's vote on health care and I haven't watched his show since. Why would I? When someone tells that blatant a lie, how can you believe a word they say about anything? Chris Christie is my governor, I voted for him, and I agree with what he said about Sarah Palin avoiding the tough interviews. Heck, when she's on the hot seat she won't even go on O'Reilly's show--she runs straight to Hannity and FNC lets her do that.

I still watch Fox. I still watch the Bret Baier news hour. But I'm also one of the viewers that has less trust in Fox than I had a year ago.

As for MSNBC? I stopped watching in January 2008 when Chris Matthews started making all the sexist remarks about Hillary Clinton, which I'm pretty sure was even several months before he became the infamous Mr. Tinglepants. Having seen enough video of Olbermann rants, I have little doubt MSNBC is just as horrendous as you say.

But just remember what O'Reilly always says--that you can't justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

i found the lack of an obvious gender gap interesting....

considering the median age of cable news viewers is over 60, the 65+ group might be under sampled

if you do this poll again, please consider crosstabs by region...i suspect faux does great in the south

Unknown said...

Interesting how you asked about NBC network, but not MSNBC. Is this because MSNBC is an entertainment channel and not a news channel?

Unknown said...

I have a feeling that more independents and liberals have started watching news/talk in the 8-11pm slots on cable. There's just no denying, unless you just refuse to see it, that Maddow (foremost) and Olbermann/O'Donnell are more courteous and thus at least appear less biased than Fox personalities. If the populace wants less vitriol and more civility, especially now, then I think it's inevitable that the comparison between MSNBC and FOXNews primetime would be a net gain for the former and a net loss for the latter. With the exception (and its still nevertheless rare) instance of O'Donnell, you never, ever see voices raised on MSNBC as you routinely see on FoxNews' highest-rated show, O'Reilly. No objective researcher could possibly draw a different conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone listen to Keith Olbermann for news? Liberals have long been interested in claiming Fox opinion hosts provide news; they don't, any more than Maddow does.

Unknown said...

Tom Jensen said...
Folks there's a link to the full data on the poll at the end of the post where you can see all the demographics and everything. We're not hiding anything...January 20, 2011 10:37 AM

This illustrates exactly what we "lefties" who are supposedly so misled by the lamestream media mean by the Fox "geniuses" who can post but can't READ!!!!!

Unknown said...

Last year's (this year's) sample:

Liberal 14% (18%)
Moderate 47% (41%)
Conservative 39% (40%)

Woman 57% (48%)
Man 43% (52%)

Democrat 36% (40%)
Republican 35% (37%)
Independent/Other 29% (23%)

Make your own conclusions.

Anonymous said...

Just out of idle curiousity, who exactly took part in this poll? Where was the poll conducted? What was the margin of error?

Because I personally trust PBS and NBC for honest news reporting about as much as I trust an outlet like DailyKos for openly sane and balanced discussion of conservative issues.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see the differences between the questions asked this year and last year. All too often a desired outcome is assured. Also how many hung up when called and so on. I never answer polls anymore as an independent. I've gotten tired of getting them 2 and 3 times a night. I don't trust polls because they rarely have predicted elections accurately. As the disliked (outside of the Carolinas) Jesse Helms said, but quite accurately "I've never won a poll, but never lost an election."

Crispian said...

The poll is fine for what it is...

But for those who treat polls as gospel, I'd offer these thoughts:

Most people watch news little, if at all. We can't assume that those polled are as familiar with PBS as they are with Fox News as they are with NBC. This poll reveals whether the perception of these various networks has changed - not whether those polled personally think the reportage is more trustworthy based on their own viewing experiences. The perception of the networks can obviously be affected by the networks' own doings. But it is also affected by the political climate.

So why would the perception of Fox News be more negative and the alphabets more positive than a year ago? We'd have to look at what was happening then and now. A year ago, the Obama attacks on Fox News had backfired and Fox News was covering stories other networks seemed to refuse to cover. Fair or not, Fox News appeared to be holding the government accountable. Before protesting too much, note that Fox's negative coverage of the Health Care bill tapped into a large segment of the population who opposed or had misgivings about the bill. The other networks weren't doing so much and there was a meme that they were shilling for Obama.

I suspect that the Loughner shooting has at least temporarily dulled the appetite for aggressive reporting and perhaps the personalities at Fox. Also, there isn't much going on - no election, no urgency for a health care bill. It is about the public mood. If the poll truly showed levels of trust, we would expect viewership to more closely accord with these numbers.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a poll that identifies whether or not there is a decline in the US population obtaining their "news" from MSM. For the good many reasons presented by others here, I am distrustful of all media in the US. Instead, I like to read as many foreign organization's media and watch videos on the web.

Unknown said...

To all the people on here saying this poll's finding are a result of Liberal biased, please remember that this same poll found that Fox News was the most trusted news network in last year's poll. A fact that Bill O'reilly and other Fox host were more than happy to brag about on their shows. So by the doubter's logic, we must conclude that the PPP had a conservative biased last year based on the poll results? Can't have it both ways folks. Facts are Facts

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Interesting how you asked about NBC network, but not MSNBC. Is this because MSNBC is an entertainment channel and not a news channel?"

MSNBC is part of NBC News. We didn't ask about CNBC or Fox Business either because they're offshoots of larger networks.

"Just out of idle curiousity, who exactly took part in this poll? Where was the poll conducted? What was the margin of error?"

I honestly think we should have a literacy test before allowing someone to comment here.

"note that Fox's negative coverage of the Health Care bill tapped into a large segment of the population who opposed or had misgivings about the bill."

Crispian, I think you were mostly right on with your analysis before and after this. I think you've got the causation wrong here, though. Fox drove negative feelings on health care, not reflected them. Most people only know to think what they're told about something.

Texas Aggie said...

On a plane ride to Boston I sat next to a TPer and an army officer being transferred to TX. They both went on and on about how fair and balanced Fox was but how biased NPR was. Their reason for calling NPR biased was that it hadn't reported any of the reasons for maintaining DADT. That there weren't any rational reasons worth mentioning was beside the point.

Anonymous said...

Maddow and Olbermann are an embrassment

Crispian said...

Dustin Ingalls,

I do think MSNBC should have been included. It is a direct competitor of CNN and Fox News. It is not akin to Fox Business or CNBC. I know you objected to the other poster's sarcasm but the substantive nature of the network should outweigh a focus on corporate structure.

And the other poster makes a legitimate point (despite your objection to his literacy) that it is worth knowing the demographics and the margin of error. More information can only help.

As for Fox driving the negative narrative and overwhelming reason of people who can't think on their own...that certainly is one reading of it. OR perhaps the CBO estimate really is fanciful and full of gimmicks. And maybe that would be worth reporting on. Perhaps the law will lead to fewer doctors, less care, higher costs. Maybe people really don't like the idea of being forced to buy insurance (though you may consider that short-sighted). Or maybe it's all so speculative that the media should just give the government the benefit of the doubt. Again, I want as much information as possible.

I often share your cynical view of the unwashed masses. But we were presented with arguments on both sides (even on Fox). People had to decide whether the bill was good or bad. A watcher of Fox News would have learned that pre-existing conditions are covered, that 'children' up to age 26 are covered, and that the government will be able to deny premium hikes. Under your analysis, the only way to report is to just give the government the benefit of the doubt (as was done leading up to the Iraq War) because glowing or negative coverage simply overwhelms the public. If your objection is to things like "Death Panels" (a gross exaggeration) or abortion funding (fairly speculative) which received greater play on Fox, I'd contend that these were the deciding factors for a very small segment - certainly not the plurality or majority of people who say they oppose the law.

NotAWhiningRepublican said...

42% is still too high. That's just too many morons believing FoxNews garbage and supporting government bashing.

Unknown said...

Of course you're right. There's only one valid point of view for anything, the progressive one, so why would anyone attempt to present two sides to any argument?

Anonymous said...

All the corporate media companies have a vested financial interest and simply have no interest in reporting real news. Even PBS is often "sponsored" by a corporation with an agenda. I suggest you compare the news offered by any of the corporate media outlets and Democracy Now for a week and determine where real news is reported.

Anonymous said...

All the right-wingers here posing as independents and bashing everyone else as "lefty", especially the PPP for their assumed bias, notice Faux is still 2nd behind PBS. They should be last if this poll was so skewed.

What? A poll isn't reputable unless it comes from Rasmussen?

Anonymous said...

PPP's best polling since NY-23. lol.

Sorry Tom, but with your connections with the Democratic Party and being the official pollster for the Daily Kos, it's hard to give PPP polls a great deal of credibility.

You do have a dog in the fight.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"And the other poster makes a legitimate point (despite your objection to his literacy) that it is worth knowing the demographics and the margin of error. More information can only help."

I responded as I did because all of that information is readily available in this very blog post, as it always is. Just click the link. Tom had already noted where to find it.

Fox's coverage is not as fair and balanced as you make it seem...or as informative (as we know from surveys of various networks' viewers' knowledge of current events...or is the causal relationship questionable there too? Are Fox viewers just naturally less informed and watch Fox because of it? ;) ). Their methods are top-down meant to drive a narrative, not to report objective news. You could get me started and get me going on Fox all day, but I'll leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

I find it fascinating that on person claimed that there are "false independents". I've been one for 19 years because I'm far more conservative than the Republicans and unlike Republicans, merely calling me a name won't make me change my position. Logic, fact and truth are not things things to be cast aside for convenience or mere rationalization as the Left does. As I stated earlier, the problems of polls are the predetermined outcomes, questions designed for a predetermined answer and the lack of interest by most Americans in answering polls. Thus, the most angry, or the most this or that tend to answer the polls. I didn't mind answering a poll once a month or so, but this last election season it was 2 to 3 every night and I ended up hanging up on all of them. Jesse Helms, whom I did not like much, said this quite accurately "I've never won a poll and I've never lost an election."

NRH said...

@Crispy -
"And the other poster makes a legitimate point (despite your objection to his literacy) that it is worth knowing the demographics and the margin of error. More information can only help."

Are you also not able to read the bit that says "full results here" and provides a link to the full results, which includes all the demographic information and the margin of error? That's what he was referring to. When someone asks for information that's already provided, it suggests bad things about that person's level of reading comprehension.

nelking said...

I'm thinking Comedy Central would have done well if it was considered news. The court jester still exists.

Anonymous said...

Somebody commented >Fox News is nothing but far right wing propaganda

and CNNMSNBCCBSABC play it right down the middle, I gather?

got it

Anonymous said...

Last year, FOX News did a lot of promotion with this poll because they had the best numbers and now PPP, when the numbers don't look good, is of course a left wing propaganda organization :D

Please, if you can't handle facts, don't look at them but stop the crying. Maybe Glenn Beck will reveal how George Soros is all behind that ;)

NRH said...

@BOW - One defining characteristic of a cult is training its members to believe in the truth of a single information source and that every other news source out there is biased and conspiring against the cult. Sort of like how North Korea tells their people that only their news can be trusted and everyone else in the world is trying to undermine them.

Anonymous said...

Not even CLOSE to the truth, and sorry, your comments: we included a chart doesn't hold any more truth than your story. PBS is owned by the left - so it's just more blahblahblah - I stand in the middle and research for my self and I sure as heck do NOT go to PBS -nor know of anyone who does- for my 'news reporting'

Anonymous said...

What a load of CRAP... do you liberals ever tell the truth?

NBC +9%
ABC +7%
CBS +7%

what f'n joke!

Anonymous said...

Yea, like I'd trust PPP the shill for the lamestream media. The ratings prove otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest reason for Fox's decrease is Beck. He definitely mixes in large loads of bull into facts. It's all about credibility in the news biz, and Beck's bull smears the entire brand. Fox needs to either hold him to a higher standard, even at the cost of diminished ratings, or just let him go outright.

Anonymous said...

Who actually watches PBS compared to FOX?

imajoebob said...

Exclusive of the actual politics, there's an interesting dynamic to the comments: The obviously left-leaning comments usually pick out a specific reason they don't (or you shouldn't) trust Fox News. Sean Hannity did this, Bill O'Reilly did that,the Fox organization practices this... While the notably reactionary responses are attacks against the character of individuals or organizations; PBS is a lefty mouthpiece, NBC is in the pocket of the White House, "Big Head Ed is..."

I believe this attitude is reflected in the news organizations that these commenters identify with - and not by chance. The "lefties" may be just as adamant in their attacks as the "wing nuts," but the use of fact - or at least concrete example, is almost entirely limited to the left.

Jo said...

Excuse me...did any of you who watch and believe ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN not notice that Fox trust number is higher? If you believe 'those' networks you must be dilusional....pull your heads out of the sand. Talk about bias!!!!! Can anyone tell me why PBS is so believable? Yes, I watch FOX but also do my own research when in question. 'Course we all know the "Big Man' and his cohorts would love to squelch FOX News....the old saying goes, 'the truth hurts'!

Unknown said...

News in the traditional sense is long gone. All that is available now is slanted opinion. "Anchors" tell you what and how to think. In order for us, the electorate to make.informed.decisions we must listen and research a variety.of news sources and make a well informed, educated and rational decision rather than sit there and let a pundit tell us what unions mean. Keep up the good work PBS!

Anonymous said...

Why did you only poll 632 people? Seems like too small a number for much statistical accuracy.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Why did you only poll 632 people? Seems like too small a number for much statistical accuracy."

A 3.9% MOE is pretty low. The more people you poll, the less the MOE decreases. If we'd gotten 1,000 responses, it would only decrease the MOE to 3.1%. Not much difference there.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that Independents are moving away from Obama in Droves. Also, polling is an easy thing to paint in a slanted bias manner just by the way questions are posed and the answer options the subjects of these polls are given.

You are obviously a decidedly left leaning polling group! I can tell by the subject matter of your website! ALL FRAUD!

You aren't fooling anyone!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Oh this is bullshit from and for morons. Anyone who buys this crap is brain dead.

Anonymous said...

The interesting part is given the most trusted spot held by PBS, why is congress trying to defund it? is the GOP nt happy with the whole Watergate erosion of trust in the government that they now have to erode it further?

Anonymous said...

Only PBS/ NPR are worth watching or hearing. The rest are suitable only for morons or americans.

Anonymous said...

Seems odd that Fox News would beat out ABC, especially given the fact that NBC Nightly News only runs clips on Hulu, making it impossible to run a whole episode without watching a kazillion ads...

kxar said...

Ah, Yes! - "PPP offers the highest quality polling at the most affordable price"

So who paid for the results of this poll? Soros? Media Matters?

Anonymous said...

"I know for a fact that Independents are moving away from Obama in Droves." And you know this for a fact becaaaaauuuussse....?
The fact that Fox still has a higher favorable than the others isn't as important as the drop in their unfavorable while the others favorables rose. Taken alone, this poll would be interesting but not necessarily conclusive. But when combined with recent polls showing a decline in approval of the tea party and the Republican lead congress, it seems like most signs are pointing in the same direction; Americans are finally beginning to wake up and wise up to the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of the GOP and its corporate sponsors. Evil shenanigans.

Opus Croakus said...

When Religulous first came out in theatres, I overheard my wife's brother say "Don't go see Religulous. It's stupid." I then butted in, "Is it? What part did you find to be particularly offensive?" to which he replied "All of it... I didn't go see it. It's stupid." Uh huh. I of course had just seen it.

I pulled up to a diner to meet up with my best friend from highschool who was waiting outside smoking a cigarette. He heard an NPR program on my stereo before I rolled up the window. "You know," he said as we walked inside, "you're not getting the whole story by listening to NPR. It's liberally biased." "It is?" I replied, "Which programs do you find to be the most offensive?" His response: "I don't listen to that crap."

The only way I can figure that these two individuals came to their "conclusions" is someone told them what conclusions to have.

And don't get me started on all the 'secularist' books my mother has warned me to steer clear of because of reviews OF REVIEWS she has read about them.

There is a predisposition on the right to march in lockstep when someone starts beating a drum.

I live in the conservative south. These three examples of mindless 'slave boat rowing' are just the scab on the rhine of a bloated and sweaty pig. I see it everyday, and it is truly disheartening to see so many people willing to blindly put their trust into such a narrow beam.

P.S. Don't read my blog. It's stupid!

Web Statistics