By Ryan Foley
Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson began the latest edition of her weekly syndicated show Full Measure with an in-depth report on the growing distrust of the media. The package focused heavily on the results of a poll conducted for Full Measure by pollster Scott Rasmussen, which had some devastating results for media credibility.
In summation, Rasmussen concluded that voters see journalists as a “political activist, not as a source of information.”
Attkisson began the report by focusing on January as a particularly bad month for media credibility, citing a Seattle Fox affiliate airing a doctored video of President Trump’s Oval Office address and a Telegraph [a British publication] article about First Lady Melania Trump that required seven corrections. Attkisson also mentioned the more well-known examples of media malpractice; the BuzzFeed bombshell and the Covington debacle.
After pointing out that “it’s been a bad few years for media credibility,” Attkisson began discussing the results of the poll. A plurality of those surveyed, 42 percent, saw national political news coverage as “inaccurate and unreliable” while only 26 percent thought that “political reporters carefully report facts.”
On the other hand, 57 percent of respondents thought that political reporters “use news stories to promote their own ideological agenda.”
In an on-screen interview with Attkisson, Rasmussen concluded that “we have a world where people look at journalists like they look at Wikipedia. ‘Gee, that’s an interesting fact. I better check it myself.’” According to Rasmussen, this proves that “the media has a huge credibility problem.”
The poll also found that 52 percent of respondents say that political news coverage is “worse compared to five years ago.” Nonetheless, Rasmussen stressed that the media have “always had” a credibility problem, adding that “people were complaining about the bias of Walter Cronkite back in the 1960s,” specifically regarding his coverage of the Vietnam War.
Rasmussen also talked about how people have hated the media for a long time, arguing that President Trump merely “capitalized on that,” rather than creating an “environment where everybody hates the media.” Rasmussen stressed that “he’s not the first to do so,” mentioning that President George H.W. Bush got kind of testy during an interview with Dan Rather; where the then-Vice President criticized the CBS host for attempting to judge his “whole career by a re-hash on Iran.”
Eventually, the pollster highlighted the most shocking result of the poll: “78 percent of voters say that…what reporters do with political news is promote their agenda. They think they use incidents as props for their agenda rather than seeking to accurately record what happened” while “only 14 percent think that a journalist is actually reporting what happened.”
Rasmussen continued: “if a reporter found out something that would hurt their favorite candidate, only 36 percent of voters think that they would report that.” Rasmussen summed up the results of the poll by declaring that voters see journalists as a “political activist, not as a source of information.” It looks like the media have a lot of work to do if they want to reconvince the American public that they are fact-driven, not agenda-driven.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.