Speed Reads

fourth estate

Most Americans believe that traditional media is reporting 'fake news'

President Trump's favorite phrase has gone mainstream.

Major segments of Americans across the political spectrum believe that traditional media outlets report "fake news" at least occasionally, a Monmouth University poll published Monday found.

More than three-quarters of those polled — 77 percent — said that TV news networks and newspapers were involved in "fake news." Thirty-one percent said fake news is being reported "regularly," while 46 percent believe it is only "occasionally." The results represent an uptick in media skepticism: Monmouth University's 2017 poll found that only 63 percent of the public thought "fake news" was being reported at least occasionally.

A majority of those polled additionally believe that "fake news" involves more than just incorrect facts. Editorial decisions about what outlets choose to report were also considered a factor for 65 percent of Americans. The survey found that 86 percent of the public believes that online news websites report fake news, an increase from last year's 80 percent.

Those surveyed also overwhelmingly said that outside groups or agents are actively trying to plant fake news stories in mainstream media and social media, and a majority believed that it was a "serious problem."

"These findings are troubling, no matter how you define 'fake news.' Confidence in an independent fourth estate is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy. Ours appears to be headed for the intensive care unit," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll was conducted March 2-5 among 803 adults reached by phone. Its margin of error is 3.5 percentage points. See more results here.