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Trust in Mainstream Media Continues to Decline amid Growing Partisan Divide

covid media paranoia

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Last August 30, the Pew Research Center published a study on citizens’ trust in the media, the data highlight an increasingly latent reality: conservatives and Republicans do not trust the press, especially the liberal media.

“In just five years, the percentage of Republicans with at least some trust in national news organizations has been cut in half – dropping from 70% in 2016 to 35% this year. This decline is fueling the continued widening of the partisan gap in trust of the media,” the release reads.

In contrast, most Democrats do trust the media, according to the survey itself: “Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) say they have “a lot” or “some” trust in the information that comes from national news organizations – 43 percentage points higher than Republicans and Republican leaners (35%) – according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted June 14-27, 2021. This partisan gap is the largest of any time that this question has been asked since 2016. And it grows even wider – to 53 points – between liberal Democrats (83%) and conservative Republicans (30%).”

These numbers generated various debates and interpretations in networks. One of the approaches taken by liberal journalists and analysts boils down to the take of Susan Glasser, a writer at The New Yorker and CNN: “Republicans with some trust in national media: 70% in 2016 35% in 2021 The Trump years, in short. Turns out having a president who labels the press ‘enemies of the people’ makes a difference.”

Glasser’s approach to the data is flawed to say the least. By a long shot. You don’t have to be a scholar to realize that in the United States most of the mainstream media is mostly sympathetic to progressive ideas and that, for four years, the press systematically operated against Trump’s presidency completely forgetting journalistic ethics on many occasions.

Nor is this a war between Trump and the media. From 2016 to the present, it has been seen how the media are capable of generating disinformation campaigns for mere political whims. For example, in recent weeks, the liberal mainstream media operated against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with distorted and unsubstantiated “investigative reporting”. First it was the AP with an article on COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatments and then the Miami Herald on how Florida counts coronavirus deaths.

Both stories were debunked and also heavily criticized on networks, but that didn’t stop DeSantis’ political opponents from using false information to go for the governor’s jugular and liberal media across the country from collaborating with such a wave of misinformation.

The past five years also saw the media twist quotes or turn a blind eye to scandals that did not favor the Democratic Party line. An emblematic case was the exclusive revealed by the New York Post about Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop and his shady business dealings abroad just days before the presidential election.

Not only did the New York tabloid reveal a major exclusive about the son of a presidential candidate and an apparent lie by Joe Biden himself, but it was censored on Twitter and Facebook for the article, in an unprecedented attack on free speech in the U.S. How did the liberal media react? They ignored. They couldn’t even show a modicum of solidarity for the Post.

liberal media
The Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, was one of the most critical newspapers of the Trump administration during his tenure. (Image: Flickr).

The liberal media have earned the distrust of the conservative public

Precisely, the New York Post published on Monday, September 6 a scathing editorial where it presents some of the lies published by the liberal media.

“Last week, USA Today decided to fact check reality. Presented with a photo of President Biden checking his watch during the return of dead US service members to American soil, reporter Daniel Funke said that was ‘wrong.’ Don’t believe your lying eyes,” says the editorial. “No, Funke insisted, Biden only checked his watch after the ceremony was over. No matter that military family members were already quoted saying the president did it multiple times.”

Paradoxical as it may seem, the fact-checking industry, far from checking facts, brazenly alters them. Family members of soldiers killed in Afghanistan were hurt by the treatment of Biden, who talked a lot about his late son Beau during private meetings and repeatedly looked at his watch during the ceremony, even the Washington Post ran a good article about it, what are the fact-checkers at USA Today doing saying otherwise?

To top it off, USA Today couldn’t even admit that their fact-check is completely false. It simply added a “clarification” and said it “lacked context” to the claim that Biden looked at his watch during the ceremony for the deceased heroes in Kabul.

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Half-hearted correction by USA Today after it received endless criticism on social networks. (Screenshot).

The Post also decries something important in its editorial: much of the mainstream media ignored Biden’s meetings with family members and the particular instance of impatiently glancing at his watch. “It sounds like a broken record these days, but can you imagine what would have happened if President Trump had checked his watch at a military funeral? The Times newsroom would have gone to Defcon 1. Paul Krugman would have had a stroke,” the tabloid again ironized in its article.

Examples abound, remember how the liberal media trashed Trump for a whole month for the alleged crackdown in Lafayette Park for the former president to have his picture taken with bible in hand? Well, it turned out to be a lie, Trump had nothing to do with it.

Another important case was the media coverage regarding the origins of COVID-19 at the Wuhan lab. It literally went from being a conspiracy theory to a plausible theory. Meanwhile, anyone who professed concerns about the possibility that the coronavirus arose in a laboratory was accused of being a conspiracist and a racist. Yes, racist.

Want more examples? Journalist Sharyl Attkisson keeps a list of false media reports regarding former President Trump. The tally goes at 156 fake news stories. The list has not been updated since June.

Let’s measure for a moment, if the Trump figure alone accumulates 156 fake news stories on his shoulders, how many fake stories regarding DeSantis, Republican state laws —like the election law in Georgia— conservative activists or right-wing media will have come out from the American liberal communicational apparatus?

Holding Donald Trump responsible for conservatives not trusting the media is not only shortsighted, but also offensive to citizens who responsibly and courageously decided to take a stand against partisan journalism.

If the liberal-traditional media do not reflect and continue down this unethical path, distrust will most likely increase, and that is where the alternative media —which today is closer to conservatism— will have to prove to be serious and responsible enough to capitalize on Americans’ discontent. Journalism cannot die in the hands of the mercantilism of communication.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

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