President Donald Trump and his administration have labeled the media “fake news” and the “enemy of the American People,” but American adults continue to have the same level of trust in news they get from traditional and new media, according to new research from BuzzFeed News and Ipsos Public Affairs. The poll found that trust levels were essentially unchanged in the past month compared to the same survey conducted in January.
An online survey of 1,006 American adults conducted in late February found a majority of people trust all or most of the news they read or hear from traditional sources such as broadcast TV and print newspapers. Levels of trust in newer mediums such as online-only news websites and Facebook were lower but remained essentially unchanged from a previous survey conducted in January.
“The administration’s conflict with the press and frequent use of the ‘fake news’ moniker hasn’t really affected how much the American public trusts the news it gets from the media,” said Ipsos VP Chris Jackson. “Our latest BuzzFeed/Ipsos poll indicates that despite being labeled ‘the enemy of the American people,’ trust in cable news, TV news, and newspapers among Americans is virtually unchanged from a month ago.”
The first online survey of media trust was conducted in January in the two days after Trump called CNN “fake news” at a press conference where he also labeled BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage.” At the time, 59% of respondents said they trust news they read or hear on broadcast TV or in print newspapers all or most of the time. Half of people said they trust cable news or news radio all or most of the time. Online-only news publications were trusted by 36% percent of respondents, and news on Facebook was trusted 18% of the time. (The data from that survey can be found here.)
The new survey, conducted on Feb. 23 and 24, comes after Trump intensified his attacks on the media and began consistently blaming the press for inaccurate reporting and what he said were damaging leaks. At a Feb. 16 press conference he called CNN “very fake news” and said “the press honestly is out of control.” The next day, he labeled CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, and the Times the “FAKE NEWS media” in a tweet that also referred to them as the “enemy of the American People.”
The February survey found roughly 60% of respondents trust news from broadcast TV all or most of the time. That increase of one percent from January falls within the 3.5% credibility interval for the survey, meaning it is not statistically significant. The trust level for news from print newspapers, online-only publications, radio news and all other sources remained consistent with January’s data when the credibility interval is factored in. You can read a summary of the February survey data here.
News consumption habits also remained unchanged from the month before. Facebook and Broadcast TV were the most common sources of news for respondents in the past month. Fifty-four percent of American adults said they consumed news from broadcast TV in the previous month, and 53% said they consumed news on Facebook in the same time period. There numbers were two percentage points lower than the results in January, placing them within the credibility interval for the survey.
The February survey included 367 Democrats, 316 Republicans, and 208 Independents from the continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii.