The Washington Post

Americans don’t trust the media. That’s a very bad thing.

Trust in the media -- TV newspapers and online -- is at record low levels.

That's according to new numbers released by Gallup over the weekend. It's not a pretty picture.

Image courtesy of Gallup
Image courtesy of Gallup

Read the chart above and here's what you come away with: There isn't a single news medium that more than one in five Americans have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of trust in. (I did not miss the fact that "news on the Internet" is the lowest rated on the trust meter. I can only assume that's present company excluded.)

Your first reaction to that fact is likely something like this: Damn right. The media is so conservative/liberal/some other ideology that they don't deserve to be trusted.

Fair enough. But, take a second and reflect on what it means that most people believe that there is simply no referee, no independent observer that exists to litigate the constant fighting in the political world.

The natural result of that loss of faith in the news media is for people to seek out more partisan sources of information which they can "trust" because the information being put out by those sites jibes with their particular point of view.  That is, of course, is exactly what's happened in recent years as partisans shows, news sites and radio programs have boomed even as more traditional, non-partisan media outlets have struggled.  That means people are faced with information that doesn't perfectly fit their world view less and less of the time -- leading to the idea that people with whom you disagree are not simply looking at the world differently but rather are, at best, stupid, at worst, and evil.

That is a very, very bad thing for our political discourse in this country.  And, given the trend lines on trust in the media (read: downward), things only look to get worse.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.



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