Most Americans can’t name an objective news source, and the 44 percent who do are less likely to cite NPR than Fox or CNN.
That’s according to “American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy,” a Gallup/Knight Foundation report released Tuesday. The findings are drawn from a mail survey sent to more than 19,000 U.S. adults.
The survey found a strong correlation between political values and media distrust. Eighty-one percent of Republicans said there was “too much bias in the reporting of news stories that are supposed to be objective,” while 78 percent said there was “too much bias in the selection of what stories news organizations cover or don’t cover.” Meanwhile, about 50 percent of Democrats agreed with both points, and about 68 percent of Independents.
Among the survey respondents who named an objective source of news, 60 percent who identify as Republicans chose Fox News. Across all but one age group of these respondents, Fox News was cited most often as an objective news source. For those aged 49 and younger, CNN and NPR were considered objective among the same or slightly lower percentages than Fox.
Among all respondents who cited a source of objective news, 24 percent named Fox. CNN follows with 13 percent and then NPR at 10 percent. Fox News and NPR each had 16 percent among 30 to 49 year olds. Among Independents, Fox was cited as objective by 16 percent of respondents, followed by NPR at 12 percent. Sixty percent of Republicans identified Fox as objective.
“Among Democrats, CNN (21%) and NPR (15%) led, but by much smaller percentages than Fox News had among Republicans,” the report said.
CNN and NPR are tied at 26 percent as the most cited objective news outlet among liberals, the report said. Those who identify as “very liberal” count NPR as their top choice.
PBS was considered an objective news source among 3 percent of these respondents, the same portion as NBC/NBC News, The New York Times and ABC/ABC News. PBS ranked below local news (nonspecific), the BBC and MSNBC.
Fox News and CNN also edged out NPR among majorities of white and Hispanic respondents. Among blacks, Fox News and NPR tied at 6 percent. At 19 percent, NPR is the most mentioned objective news source among postgraduates, although Fox News leads among other educational groups, the report said.
Among all survey respondents, television news and newspapers were the most trusted news sources. About two-thirds of U.S. adults said they relied on TV “a great dea” or “a fair amount.”
“Americans have the greatest trust in national network news and local and national newspapers to provide mostly accurate and politically balanced news,” the report said. “They trust cable news more than they trust internet news sources.”
Forty-three percent said they have a “very unfavorable” or “somewhat unfavorable” opinion of the news media, while 23 percent are neutral. Democrats are the most likely to have a favorable opinion of news media at 54 percent, unlike Republicans who are 15 percent favorable of the news media. Forty-eight percent of Independents said they viewed it unfavorably.
The report does not draw specific recommendations from the research. The Washington Post will livestream a series of panels about the survey’s implications Jan. 23.