For the past five years, the left-wing Public Policy Polling organization has asked a sample of TV viewers which news outlets they trust the most and the ones they believe the least. This year's version resulted in a low finish for MSNBC, far behind the Fox News Channel, which has topped the list ever since the annual poll got underway.
This year's numbers show that 35 percent trusted the Fox News Channel, more than any other outlet, followed by the Public Broadcasting Service at 14 percent, the Cable News Network at 10 percent, CBS at 9 percent, MSNBC and Comedy Central tied at 6 percent, and just 3 percent for NBC.
PPP's Tom Jensen states that “Democrats are split between a lot of different outlets when it comes to who they have the most faith in.” Twenty-one percent of those people trust PBS, CNN and ABC at 18 percent, and CBS and MSNBC at 12 percent.
Two outlets that drew poor numbers in the poll on trust were Comedy Central and MSNBC. "In both cases, the share of Republicans trusting them drops down to about 10 percent, even as a majority of Democrats still express faith in them.,” Jansen noted.
However, liberals can find some solace in a few of the poll results, in which Fox News was also designated as “the least trusted” news organization by 33 percent of those surveyed. Nineteen percent give MSNBC that designation, with 14 percent for Comedy Central, 11 percent for CNN, 5 percent for ABC, 4 percent for CBS and 2 percent each for NBC and PBS.
“That's largely because 57 percent of Democrats give [Fox News] their least trusted designation, with only Comedy Central at 18 percent also hitting double digits with them,” Jensen noted. MSNBC leads the negative numbers among Republicans at 38 percent, but CNN at 17 percent and Comedy Central at 13 percent both hit double digits as well.
The reporter stated that Fox came in first mostly because people in the GOP are devoted to it. “It leads the way because of its continuing near total support among Republicans as the place to go for news; 69 percent of Republicans say it's their most trusted source with nothing else polling above 7 percent.”
It's interesting that while Fox News and MSNBC are often thought of as equivalent, Fox News is by far and away the most trusted source of GOP voters, while MSNBC is only tied for 4th among Democrats.
In Fox's case, 75 percent of Republicans trust it while only 20 percent of Democrats do.
The poll indicates that voters are closely divided about most of the outlets. Fox News came in at 44 percent approval while 42 percent disapprove, CBS at 39/37, CNN at 40/40, NBC at 39/39 and ABC News at 37/38.
Curiously, when political items were removed from the survey, only one outlet was clearly trusted by a majority of Americans. “That's PBS,” the reporter said, “which 57 percent say they trust to 24 percent who don't. Most Democrats (80/6) and independents (49/31) trust it, and it at least gets an even split with Republicans at 38 percent.”
Of course, any poll that ignores the political climate in the nation will undoubtedly be skewed, especially when you consider that PBS has minuscule ratings.
As NewsBusters previously reported, the Fox News Channel has dominated the ratings race among cable news networks for the past 12 years and ended 2013 with higher ratings than MSNBC, CNN and HLN (the former Headline News channel) combined.
Even with the shift in prime-time programming Fox News underwent in October, the channel still “proved to be a hit with viewers” since it almost doubled the number of people who watched CNN and MSNBC combined.
“Just for fun,” Jensen wrote toward the end of his article, the pollsters did some bizarre testing of voter attitudes about Bill O'Reilly, anchor of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, and Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Channel.
“A hypothetical presidential contest between the pair would be a toss-up, with O'Reilly getting 38 percent to Colbert's 35 percent,” Jensen indicated. However, “Colbert has a lot more room to grow since 31 percent of Democrats would be undecided compared to just 20 percent of Republicans.”
However, Colbert does win one contest with O'Reilly, the reporter noted. By a 38 to 13 margin, voters say he has better hair, and there's a bipartisan consensus on that with even Republicans narrowly saying that Colbert wins the “hair wars.”