Poll shows Americans just don't know what to believe anymore

Source: AP
Source: AP

More than six in 10 Americans believe that traditional news outlets regularly or occasionally report "fake news," according to a Monmouth University poll. The number of Americans who believe online outlets report fake news is even higher, with 80% of Americans believing those sources "regularly" or "occasionally" report fake news.

But even though Americans don't trust the press, they believe what President Donald Trump says even less. When asked whether they trust the president or major TV news outlets more, poll respondents said they tend to prefer the latter. Fifty-three percent said they trust ABC News over Trump, while a plurality trusted cable channels Fox News and MSNBC over the president.

Trump has consistently tried to undermine national media outlets since becoming president, referring to outlets like CNN and BuzzFeed as "fake news" and a "flaming pile of garbage," respectively.

Self-identified Republicans were much more likely to believe that both traditional and online news sources report fake news — 79% said major media outlets regularly or occasionally report fake news and 87% said the same about online news sites. 

A majority of Republicans also believed fake news was being published intentionally to push an agenda. Fifty-five percent of Republicans said traditional sources of media published fake news intentionally; 57% said online sites pushed fake news deliberately.

Democrats were more likely to differentiate between the two types of media. Only 43% of Democrats felt that traditional outlets regularly or occasionally distributed fake news, while a full 72% said online outlets regularly or occasionally circulated fake news.

Hillary and Bill Clinton attend the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Source: 
Win McNamee/AP

The difference in Democratic opinions may have something to do with how fake online outlets — some as far away as Macedonia — published a litany of negative, fake news articles about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. 

The poll also found that people with higher incomes were more likely to accuse online outlets of intentionally publishing fake news, while their opinions of traditional news sources were more mixed.

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Andrew Joyce

I cover politics and policy.

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