Only Congress, at 7%, got less confidence than TV news.
The poll indicates that the partisan gap between viewers’ trust in TV news is narrowing: in 2020, 33% of Democrats had “a lot/somewhat” trust in TV news, compared to only 7% for Republicans (26%). . -point of deviation ); in 2021, it was 26% of Democrats and 6% of Republicans (a difference of 20 points). This year, that gap has narrowed to 12 points, suggesting that dark TV news views are becoming a pervasive phenomenon, something we can all agree on.
Because the poll doesn’t look at the reasons for these trends, blog Erik Wemple feels compelled to speculate. There you have it: Gallup’s trust figures reflect, at least in part, the role of major TV news providers in discrediting their competitors. Turn on Fox News in prime time, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear the latest blasts from MSNBC and CNN. “Fake news CNN” is the term host Sean Hannity frequently uses to introduce the network so despised by his mentee, Donald Trump. A staple of Fox News programming is a mix of voices from CNN, MSNBC and other networks – stitched together and packaged for maximum sneer potential.
Most of the criticism is baseless guts hatched to further Trump or another Fox News workhorse, though there have been plenty of legitimate reasons to hit MSNBC and CNN over the years.
For their part, CNN and MSNBC are doing a good job of attacking and debunking the lies, distortions and hate on Fox News. There’s a lot to work with, segments that promoted the ‘big lie’ after the 2020 presidential election – which sparked two ongoing lawsuits from two voting tech companies that were attacked on Fox News without basis, they say – to Trump’s gullible cover-up to host Tucker Carlson’s racist rantings.
Erik Wemple: Judge: Fox News can’t evade Dominion ‘big lie’ trial
Just to be clear, we are not claiming equivalence between CNN/MSNBC and Fox News. There are not any. Still, the professionalization of the cable wars surely plays a part in the plummeting numbers that Gallup find. Our line of analysis downplays the role of traditional broadcast networks and other competitors such as PBS and C-SPAN, but let’s face it: Fox News, CNN and MSNBC play an outsized role in popular conceptions of what has become television news.
So do these confidence numbers mean bad luck for cable networks?
No. The Pew Research Center tracks cable news audience size, and here’s a look at how it’s changed over the Trump years:
Daytime audiences followed a similar trajectory.
So while cable news viewership grew from 2016 to 2020, according to Pew, American adults’ trust in television news fell, according to Gallup. These two phenomena may seem incompatible, but think about it: MSNBC/CNN viewers may have tuned in to hear other reasons why they should lose faith in Fox News; and Fox News viewers may have listened to more reasons why they should lose faith in MSNBC/CNN.
Now there is a sustainable business model.