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U.S. Near Bottom in Public Trust of Newsmedia

by Eric Zuesse

According to the most extensive study ever done of the public’s usages of, and trust in, the news media in their country — a study that (in late January early February) scientifically sampled thousands of people in each one of 36 different industrialized countries — the United States scored #28, which was in the bottom 22% of all 36 nations, regarding the public’s trust of the news media.  However, the average American had a 53% level of trust in the news-sources he or she is relying on.  The country with the highest level of trust in the news media generally was Finland, where 61% of the population trust the nation’s news media.  Two countries were tied for the last place in trusting the media among the 36 nations surveyed, both scoring a 23% level of trust: Greece, and Korea.  All of the countries that scored below the U.S. (in order increasingly less-trusting than America, down to the very bottom) were: The Czech Republic, Hungary, Taiwan, France, Malaysia, Slovakia, and then, Greece and Korea tied at the bottom.

Those figures appear on page 21 of the 136-page study, “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017”.

The surveys also asked respondents to rate themselves between far-left and far-right.  The degree of political polarization in the United States, is shown on page 38, and turns out to be, by far — actually enormously — the highest polarization of all 36 countries. Whereas in the other 35 countries the residents reasonably constitute a nation where there is widespread political agreement (a coherent nation), the residents in the U.S. are more like a nation in ideological civil war.  (Perhaps Ukraine, which wasn’t surveyed, is even worse, and maybe that’s why it split apart right after the 2014 U.S. coup there.)

Page 103 of the Reuters Institute’s report presents the details of the U.S. findings.  This page shows that Americans whose main source of news is NPR are the farthest-left of all audiences, and that Americans whose main source of news is Fox News online (not the TV channel) are the farthest-right of all audiences.  Among all 32 “News Brands” constituting the “Top Brands,” the only one that is anywhere near the political center (in its audience) is Yahoo! News.  Only one among the 32 brands has an audience that rates itself to the right of center: Fox News online.  Even the audience of the Fox News TV brand rate themselves to the left of center.  Apparently, more Americans are embarrassed at being categorized as rightists, than are embarrassed at being categorized as leftists.  Maybe this has something to do with the phrase in America ‘political correctness’ being commonly associated with ‘liberal’ positions, and also helps explain ‘conservatives’ widespread contempt for ‘political correctness’.  (Maybe Fox News on TV seems to them to be sufficiently ‘politically correct’ for them to be able to admit that it’s their main news-source.)

The largest 26 news-audiences in the United States, as indicated in the Reuters study (p.103), are (from the largest on down) Local TV news, Fox News (TV), regional or local newspaper, CNN, Huffington Post (online-only), NBC/MSNBC (miscategorized as being one not two), ABC, CBS, CNN online, Fox News online, New York Times online, local radio news, local TV news online, BuzzFeed News (online-only), BBC, Washington Post online, NPR, local newspaper online, NBC/MSNBC online, MSN (online-only), ABC online, BBC online, New York Times print, PBS, USA Today, and Washington Post.

https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/breitbart.com shows the online right-wing news Breitbart as being #58 in the U.S., and Huffington Post as being #66, but Breitbart scored in the Reuters survey as #33 of all news sources, having a far smaller audience than did the #2-ranked online news site Huffington Post (which scored so high at Reuters). Perhaps that’s because Breitbart is proudly ‘politically incorrect’ and maybe a result of this is that many of its users don’t want to admit that it’s their main news-source.

The farthest ‘left’ news-source amongst the 32 top media, NPR, is actually solidly neoconservative; and was gung-ho, in 2002 and up to the invasion in 2003, for Republican George W. Bush’s push, to invade Iraq.  National Public Radio invited many proponents (and almost no opponents) of invasion — such as the Brookings Institution’s Ken Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon, and the Bush Administration’s own Eliot Cohen — onto their shows, arguing that it would be essential to invade Iraq.  Furthermore, the Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, was among the most neoconservative politicians in America, but was clearly preferred by NPR against Donald Trump, who was panned by all neocons, even by Republican ones, and who emerged as a neocon only after becoming President (though still not yet as much of a neocon as Hillary Clinton always was).  And, for example, Eliot Cohen has been an invited ‘expert’ guest on NPR several times recently (such as this and this and this and this and this) talking against Trump, and against Trump’s least-neocon cabinet-member Rex Tillerson, using extremely disparaging terms against them, such as “probably the worst ever” and “reprehensible.”  When Democrats hear this ‘liberal’ news-outlet (NPR) lend its air waves to moralizing super-neocons attacking a Republican president for not being sufficiently neocon, then whatever is left of the left, in mainstream U.S. ‘news’ media, has become too small even to discern at all, other than perhaps a few liberal bumper-stickers, to place onto listeners’ cars.

But if this is liberal fascism, then is the conservative variety necessarily worse?

So, America is consumed now with one ethnic group attacking another — that’s what this ‘democracy’ is consumed by: distractions, and inter-ethnic conflicts.  As if the voracious grabbing by the nation’s super-rich and resultant soaring inequality of power in this country, isn’t a problem that the poorer 99.99% of Americans could unite together against.  But, after all, in America, ‘liberal’ and ‘left’ are now nothing more than bumper-stickers.  They can always be heard at NPR.  And, at some other ‘news’ media?  Not so much.  (And, apparently, not at all at Fox News online.)


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

11 Comments

  1. Fair dinkum says

    The usurpers wear suits.
    They come in many colours, nationalities, religions (though they all worship the God of Mammon) and both sexes.
    They live in guarded mansions, they travel first class, they eat only the finest foods and they look down their noses at the ‘losers’ below them.
    They control, manipulate, coerce, force and destroy to feed their insatiable lust for more of everything.
    But justice will prevail.
    They will, without exception, all die. Just like us.

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  2. rtj1211 says

    The crucial question everone must ask is this: ‘why do I trust MSM news programmes any more?’

    Here are a few answers:
    1. I need a source which fits my prejudices (which may have been framed in the first place by theMSM).
    2. I need to be able to converse with colleagues at work without risk of being labelled a troublemaker.
    3. I do not trust anyone, but this one seems the least bad.
    4. You critics are the troublemakers!
    5. By reading a variety of outlets, I get some take on the underlying truth.

    My response is this: ‘everything I ever knew a lot about has been misreported for 25 years and more. Why should I or you suppose that all the rest of it is any different?’

    It is wise to assume all MSM outlets are infested with spooks, with spook agendas to do with global drug dealing, promoting the arms industry and global money laundering.

    If you start from the assumption that spooks control media agendas, you then ask the simple question: ‘who, if anyone, controls the spooks?’

    A long way from school idealistic politics, is it not?

    But being an adult is about confronting hard realities….

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    • This is Eric Zuesse: All of the evidence I’ve seen is consistent with the view that in all countries that are allied with the U.S. (if not simply all countries of any type), the “spooks” or tax-supported ‘intelligence’ agencies, are simply agents of the nation’s aristocracy — i.e., of the individuals who own controlling blocs of stock in the multinational corporations that are based in that country. This group are basically that nation’s billionaires, but also include a few of its centi-millionaires (the ones who donate to politics enough to have an influence). Basically, CIA, MI6, etc., represent the billionaires.

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    • ”It is wise to assume all MSM outlets are infested with spooks, with spook agendas …” Not just wise – mandatory. See Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) by Udo Ulfkotte, an expose of how the CIA controlled the German media through bribery, threat and corruption. The book is now repressed and virtually unavailable.

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      • You’re absolutely right about the fate of Ulfkotte’s book, at least in its English translation. I have not been able to obtain a copy anywhere despite several months’ effort to do so.

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  3. There is a crisis in the capitalist media; among the indications are such things as the censorship of dissident sites and the difficulties of connecting to, for example the Morning Star and Information Clearing House. The ruling class is not going to allow the free circulation of ideas and information correcting their propaganda- their existence depends upon maintaining a grip on public opinion.
    What needs to be done, before the inevitable clamp down, is to develop networks of our own, parallel structures that allow dissent and free thought to flourish, despite the ruling class.
    This should not be too difficult- dissent existed long before the internet came into being- but it is urgent. Not least because any further tightening of the control of opinion is likely to go hand in hand with the detention of ‘dangerous’ agitators (anti-terrorism laws are, like anti ‘hate speech’ regulations, designed to allow the beheading of popular movements).
    One big difference between socialists and capitalists is that, on the left, there is, an understandable but dangerous, tendency to ignore the fragility of class rule, which is based essentially on illusions. Capitalism is a confidence trick which is never much more than a universal guffaw away from crumbling away.
    Thus it is that we tend, being modest, not to realize how quickly and radically political consciousness has changed in the last decade or so. And this despite the fact that, in the UK, it could hardly be clearer that public opinion has shifted back towards socialism in a massive way.
    The Establishment understands this, which is why it is desperately attempting to persuade those tending to the left that the real threat is from the right-from racists, fascist revivalists and bigots. By doing this they seek not only to divide their opponents but to legitimize the regulation of political opinions.
    Which brings us back to ‘where we came in’: the media owned and controlled by capitalists ought never to be trusted. Nothing that they tell us should be accepted without clear evidence to support it. And none of the opinions within it should be mistaken for being more than pieces in a mosaic designed to glorify the rule of the few and the inevitability of cannibalism.

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    • Yes, we are going to need our own ‘Samizdat’ for circulation and discussion. It rather reminds me of Orwell’s 1984, where the forbidden book circulated amoung the ‘Brotherhood’ was by the arch-enemy, Emmanuel Goldstein, titiled ‘The theory of oligarchal collectivism. Fact is stranger than fiction alright.

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  4. rehmat1 says

    I’m sure, Eric Zuesse being a part of the propaganda he is trying to discredit – knows who runs the ‘National Public Radio (NPR)’. He is no other than my fellow Canadian Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, a fanatic Zionist Jew.

    In the West, the journalists are required to follow organized Jewry’s guidelines to report the news.

    The Coastal Post, a small monthly newspaper in West Marin county, was nearly closed down after 32 years of publication in 2008 for its policy of upholding the “freedom of press” including the criticism of Israel and Zionism. Some of its readers, both Jews and non-Jews, have not liked paper’s equating Zionism with Judaism for good reason as both have nothing in common. The Coastal Post became the target of a smear campaign lead by the powerful Jewish lobby group, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for publishing Carter and the Swarm in May 2008 issue. The article was written by Israeli-Russian Jew writer Israel Shamir. The publisher of the paper Don Deane labeled an ‘anti-Semite’ and the paper’s advertisers were intimidated. Don published an apology in February 2009 in case his paper hurt the feelings of the Jewish community. A defiant Israel Shamir wrote a response to ADL’s whining about his article.

    https://rehmat1.com/2010/04/14/freedom-of-press-very-dangerous-to-practice/

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    • On behalf of OffGuardian, I wish to state that we do not support or condone or accept responsibility for the libel on Eric Zuesse contained in this comment. In future, all such or similar libellous comments will be removed.

      As a founding OffGuardian editor, I personally will also no longer approve any anti-Semitic comments, regardless of how well or poorly they may be camouflaged as anti-Zionism.

      Criticism of Israel’s policies and specific acts, as well as of Zionism as an ideology, does not fall under this rubric and is as welcome as that of any other country’s policies and acts.

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      • Deposited says

        As a frequent visitor here, Vaska, I am trying to parse your comment. You seem to be making two statements: 1. that the comment “being a part of the propaganda he is trying to discredit” is libellous, and 2. that the comment is anti-Semitic.

        Taking 1. first, well maybe it is mildly libellous – at least in British Law – but compared to much of what is said on this website (in fact this website is fairly tame) and many others it is very mild. If we were to have court cases for any comment like that the courts would be overwhelmed. It is certainly not as bad as Craig Murray’s mistake for which he is now facing libel charges. I am a fan of Murray btw but he seems to have overstepped the mark on this.

        As to 2. rehmat1 talks about “organized Jewry” and identifying that is surely no more than Mearsheimer and Walt have done. Are they anti-Semitic? He mentions that ADL is a powerful Jewish lobby group, which it is – and is called out as such in Mearsheimer and Walt.

        He also describes two people as Jewish, which they are. He says that Dorkin is a fanatic Zionist – I don’t know whether or not that is true – but the fact that he combines it with “Jew” suggests that he is not conflating “Jewish and “Zionist” – otherwise why would both words be needed. Presumably he is allowed an opinion on whether Dorkin is or is not a “fanatic Zionist”. He also mentions Shamir and calls him an Israeli-Russian Jew – which he is – and by the way not a fan of Israel – Shamir is an anti-Zionist Jew. He also says “Some of its readers, both Jews and non-Jews, have not liked paper’s equating Zionism with Judaism for good reason as both have nothing in common.” which makes clear that he is distinguishing between Jewish and Zionist.

        On the whole I find it difficult to see this comment as anti-semitic or particularly egregious in any other way and am beginning to worry if Off-Guardian has been got at.

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        • Deposited says

          If I can correct what I just said. Shamir is ethnically a Jew (whatever that means – I guess Jewish parents ) but has converted to Christianity according to his Wikipedia page. Perhaps then he can no longer be described as Jewish. He now lives in Sweden, and so may no longer, technically, be Israeli. He has certainly spent many years in Israel and served in IDF. However, rehmat1’s description of him as an Israeli-Russian Jew has some validity. It seems to me that the only person who might take exception to this is Shamir himself and he is at liberty to comment – I hope.

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