Republicans’ trust in national news outlets drops by half in just five years

Republicans’ trust in national news outlets drops by half in just five years

In just a handful of years, the number of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents saying they trust national news organizations has plummeted from 70% in 2016 to just 35% this year, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in June.

Overall, nearly six in 10 Americans—58%—said they have at least some faith in national news outlets. But 78% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents express "a lot" or at least "some" trust in national news outfits. That leaves a partisan gap of some 43 points between Democrats and Republicans—the largest gap at any time since Pew began asking the question in 2016. The divide is even more pronounced between liberal Democrats (83% trust) and conservative Republicans (30% trust), yielding a yawning 53-point gap.

The change has mostly been fueled by Republicans, according to Pew.

The 35% of Republicans who have at least some trust in national news organizations in 2021 is half that of in 2016 (70%) – and has dropped 14 points since late 2019 (49%). By comparison, Democrats have remained far more consistent in the past five years, ranging somewhere between 78% and 86%.

Faith in local news has held up slightly better, with 75% of Americans expressing at least some trust in reporting from local outlets. But Republicans still have less trust than Democrats in local outlets.

Democrats are 18 percentage points more likely than Republicans to have at least some trust in the information that comes from local news organizations (84% vs. 66%, respectively) – a gap that is again larger than at any time in recent years. Five years ago, 85% of Democrats had at least some trust in local news organizations, while 79% of Republicans did.

So if it feels like Democrats and Republicans are living in two different worlds, they are. For one group, national news outlets can still provide a baseline understanding of what's occurring in the world. For another group, those same outlets are providing very little in the way of basic truths—leaving no common set of facts for Americans to draw upon to create a public discourse.

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