From "Attitudes About the Media: A Five Country Comparison," an article in Public Opinion (Jan./Feb. 1988):

Europeans {in an April 1987 Louis Harris, France, survey} cite freedom of information as a fundamental value. It ranks first on a list of six freedoms in Britain and Spain, and second in France and Germany. The United States stands out on this question in that four other values -- the freedom to vote, freedom to worship, freedom of education, and freedom to open your own business -- rank higher. . . .

Perhaps the most striking finding is that Americans have significantly greater confidence in their institutions than Europeans have in theirs. This is as true for the media as for other institutions; majorities in three countries -- Germany, Great Britain, and Spain -- have only a little or no confidence in the media, while 69 percent of Americans have complete or some confidence. In France opinion is split with 48 percent saying they have at least some confidence in the media, and 49 percent saying they have little or none. . . .

The survey also assesses the media's influence on three central institutions of government -- the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. . . .

Here, Americans diverged from Western Europeans once again. In the United States, 81 percent of the respondents said that the media's influence on the executive branch is very or quite strong, compared to 48 percent in France, 46 percent in West Germany, 44 percent in Great Britain, and 41 percent in Spain. . . . Seventy-eight percent of Americans said that the media's influence on the legislature was strong, compared to 48 percent in Great Britain, 44 percent in West Germany, 38 percent in Spain, and 37 percent in France. The same pattern appeared with the judiciary.