When we overlap those two questions — which outlets are trusted least by people who trust specific outlets the most — we see some interesting patterns. While for many outlets the number of fans is too few to break out their least-favorite outlets with any statistical significance, there were enough people who cited CNN, Fox News, PBS/NPR and the grim “I trust no one” category to break out who they trusted the least.
Those who trust Fox the most are most likely to say they trust CNN the least, and vice versa. Those who trust PBS/NPR the most also say they trust Fox New the least. Those who say they trust no outlet in particular are most likely to say that the outlet they trust the least is “all of them.”
What’s continuously interesting about Suffolk’s findings is how unified Republican trust in Fox News is, compared to the relatively distributed trust Democrats place in various outlets. CNN is the outlet Democrats trust the most, in Suffolk’s polling, but seven outlets get at least 5 percent of Democratic respondents calling them most trusted. Among Republicans, nearly six in 10 cite Fox as their most-trusted outlet. The only other outlet that gets the endorsement at least 5 percent of Republicans? CNN.
Republicans are also more than twice as likely as Democrats to say they have no trust in any outlet.
It isn’t new that Republicans are broadly unified in placing confidence in Fox over other outlets. It also isn’t new that Fox fans tend to be among President Trump’s most loyal supporters. Just last week we looked at new data to that end, showing that Fox News viewers were the least likely to say that their positive opinions of Trump could be changed.
But it’s still worth noting how fully trust in Fox News overlaps with — and at times exceeds — Republican views of issues of importance to the White House. It’s worth noting, too, how in the new Suffolk-USA Today poll, views of CNN viewers overlap with the views held by Democrats.
Take the question of how the White House has responded to subpoena requests. Most respondents in the poll said that they thought the White House was obligated to comply with subpoenas issued by Congress. But 51 percent of Republicans disagreed — as did 58 percent of those who trust Fox News the most. Republicans support ignoring the subpoenas by a 16-point margin. Among Fox viewers, the margin is 28 points.
These aren’t great numbers for Trump, mind you. Even 30 percent of those who trust Fox think that the White House should comply. A majority of those who don’t trust any news source said that they thought compliance was in order.
While there is overlap between CNN viewers and the Democrats, there is also overlap between those who trust PBS/NPR and the views of Democrats. This suggests that the views may be a function of who likes those outlets (Democrats more than Republicans) and not a function of coverage.
On other questions, there’s a bigger gap between views of CNN watchers and those who watch PBS. Asked what Congress should do, CNN viewers were much more likely than PBS/NPR fans to say that Trump should be impeached. The difference between viewers of Fox and Republicans is not significant.
Asked if the Senate should vote to remove Trump if he is impeached, views of CNN and PBS/NPR fans were similar to the views of Democrats, as were the views of Fox-watchers to Republicans.
But on the question of whether the Senate will remove Trump — an unlikely outcome — CNN viewers were about twice as likely as PBS viewers to say it was going to happen. In this case, we may be seeing an example of differences in coverage — or the heavier support from independents for PBS’s coverage.
Again, though, that parallel between Fox and the GOP. Asked how they view Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a call that’s at the center of the impeachment inquiry, two-thirds of Fox News viewers said there was nothing wrong with the call — slightly more than the 59 percent of Republicans who said the same.
More than three-quarters of Fox News supporters agreed with Trump’s declaration that the impeachment inquiry was a “political lynching,” again slightly more than the number of Republicans saying the same thing. (Given margins of error, these differences are not statistically significant.)
Again, it’s not a new revelation that there’s overlap between Republicans and Fox News and that there are broadly shared viewpoints between those groups. But it does make one wonder how different coverage might influence Fox viewers. There are tantalizing hints in this poll about the difference coverage might make, but it’s remarkably hard to parse out the causality.
We’re left instead with reinforcement of American politics: Different partisan worlds — and different media ones, too.