Speed Reads

Fake news

A 'striking' number of Americans believe news outlets intentionally mislead public, survey says

Fifty percent of Americans believe national news outlets "intend to mislead, misinform, or persuade the public to adopt a particular point of view through their reporting," The Associated Press summarizes, per the results of a recent study.

The survey, released Wednesday by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, indicates media distrust has dropped "to the startling point where many believe there is an intent to deceive," AP writes. When asked if they agreed that national news organizations do not intentionally mislead people, 50 percent of respondents said they disagreed. Only 25 percent of participants agreed.

Polling also found that 52 percent of those surveyed disagreed that national news outlets "care about the best interests of their readers, viewers, and listeners." Only 23 percent agreed that journalists' work is in the public's best interest. 

Some might assume that an increase in news sources, mobile accessibility, and "the rapid pace of the news cycle" would mean more Americans are engaging with the news than ever before. "Instead," AP writes, "an information overload appears to have had the opposite effect." In fact, 61 percent of respondents "believe these factors make it harder to stay informed," compared to the 37 percent who said it's easier. 

Sarah Fioroni, a consultant for Gallup, said the study's findings were "pretty striking for us." The results reflected the depth of distrust surrounding the foundation and inner workings of journalism, she added. "Americans don't seem to think that the national news organizations care about the overall impact of their reporting on the society," John Sands, Knight's senior director for media and democracy, told AP.

The Knight and Gallup survey found that Democrats are more trusting of the news than Republicans, while the level of distrust among independents has spiked over the past five years. Over half of the respondents said that news organizations exhibit apparent political bias in coverage, compared to 45 percent in 2017.

Gallup surveyed 5,593 U.S. adults between May 31 and July 21, 2022. Results have a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The margins of error for subgroups are higher.