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Rush Limbaugh is America’s least-trusted news source

More than one-third of Americans say they distrust radio commentator Rush Limbaugh as a news source. (AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Brian Jones)

Thirty-nine percent of Americans say they don't trust Rush Limbaugh when it comes to news about government and politics, giving the radio personality the highest untrustworthiness rating of 36 news sources included in a recent Pew Research Center Study. Americans overall are three times more likely to say they distrust Limbaugh than to say they trust him.

Just behind Limbaugh is Fox News, which 37 percent of Americans say they don't trust. But this is offset by the large number -- 44 percent -- who say they do trust Fox News. Paradoxically, Fox is simultaneously one of the least and most trusted news sources in America, reflecting the sharp differences in partisan attitudes about the network.

When it comes to trust, MSNBC is something of Fox's liberal equivalent: 22 percent of Americans say they don't trust the network, giving it the fourth-highest untrustworthiness rating. But, again, this is offset by the 38 percent of Americans who say they do trust MSNBC.

Overall, four of the top five least-trusted news outlets have a strong conservative lean: Limbaugh, Fox News, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. MSNBC rounds out the list. The most trusted news outlets, on the other hand, tend to be major TV networks: CNN, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, with Fox at No. 5.

The Pew Study notes that "liberals, overall, trust a much larger mix of news outlets than others do. Of the 36 different outlets considered, 28 are more trusted than distrusted by consistent liberals." By contrast, among conservatives "there are 24 sources that draw more distrust than trust."

This widespread distrust of the media is one of the factors behind the so-called conservative echo chamber, whereby conservative Americans get their news primarily from sources that reinforce their already existing beliefs. There's something of an echo chamber effect among liberal Americans, too, but the Pew numbers show that it's nowhere near as powerful. As this graphic from Pew shows, 47 percent of conservatives name Fox News as their main news source. No single news outlet holds similar sway over liberal Americans.