Trust in Media 2022: Where Americans get their news and who they trust for information

Linley SandersData Journalist
April 05, 2022, 2:10 PM GMT+0

Americans of opposing political parties are sharply divided on how much they trust the news reported by national media organizations, according to a new Economist/YouGov poll.

YouGov asked 1,500 Americans where they get their news from and how much they trust a variety of prominent media organizations and news anchors. The poll, conducted from March 26 - 29, shows that while Americans are more likely to trust than distrust many prominent news sources, there are very few organizations that are trusted by more than a small proportion of Americans on both sides of the political aisle. In fact, the most Americans overall place trust in an organization that rarely covers domestic politics: the Weather Channel (52% of Americans trust it). The Weather Channel is trailed by the U.K. news outlet, BBC (39%), the national public broadcaster, PBS (41%), and The Wall Street Journal (37%). The most politically polarizing media outlet is CNN, a cable news outfit that has been a frequent target for Donald Trump. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats (66%) rate CNN as trustworthy, compared to 11% of Republicans, a 55-point difference, larger than for any other outlet. The second-largest partisan difference, 49 points, is for news coming from The New York Times: 63% of Democrats trust the outlet, whereas 14% of Republicans do.

Democrats, generally, are more trusting of any mainstream news outlet. The exception is Fox News, which 53% of Republicans trust, compared to 19% of Democrats. Republican trust in Fox News is down slightly from when we asked in 2020 (57%), and the share of Democrats who trust it is up slightly (from 15%). Republicans are also more trusting than Democrats of other right-leaning news outlets such as Newsmax (41% vs. 15%), Breitbart (25% vs. 12%), and One America News (30% vs. 17%). While Newsmax and Breitbart were not polled about by YouGov in our 2020 poll, that survey indicates that Republican trust in OAN has risen 6 points from 24% in the last two years.

The most agreement between Democrats and Republicans about which media organizations to trust comes with The Weather Channel. Half of Republicans and 62% of Democrats trust the weather-focused cable channel. Among other organizations with high overall levels of trust, The Wall Street Journal has the smallest gap in trust between Democrats (52% trust it) and Republicans (27%).

America’s most trusted media personalities

In addition to asking about the trustworthiness of national news organizations, YouGov asked about the trustworthiness of several news anchors and media personalities. The names were chosen for the survey from an open-end question on a prior survey asking respondents to share the names of news personalities they trusted the most.

Many Americans, however, are not familiar with many of the individuals surveyed, so YouGov analyzed the results by including responses for the name of each news personality only from people who did not say that they “don’t know” the name. When rebased, the most trusted people in the news business for Americans are Anderson Cooper (44% who are familiar with Cooper trust him), ABC News’ David Muir (40%), and Fox News’ Bret Baier (39%). (Far fewer people were unfamiliar with the news organizations, so our analysis of trust in those included all respondents, making the numbers not comparable.)

Among Republicans who are familiar with the news personalities, the most trusted people all are with Fox News: Tucker Carlson (65% of Republicans who are familiar with Carlson trust him), Laura Ingraham (61%), Sean Hannity (59%), and Baier (54%). Among Democrats who are familiar with news personalities, the most trusted people are Cooper (75%), MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (65%), ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos (63%), and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (62%).

Where do Americans get their news from?

Though YouGov’s media poll focused on prominent print, digital, and broadcast news organizations, young adults are less likely than older adults to use these sources for their news.

When asked about their news sources in the last week, most Americans 65 and older selected cable TV news (56%) and/or broadcast TV news (53%) or their corresponding websites. Interest in both declines among younger Americans: 26% of adults under 30 said they used cable TV or affiliate websites for news, and 21% said the same about broadcast TV news. Adults under 30 are more likely than older adults to use social media (41%) or YouTube (27%) as a news source, or to say they use none of the options listed (27%).

Democrats are also more likely than Republicans and Americans overall to say they use broadcast TV news, cable TV news, or national newspapers for information. In turn, Republicans are disproportionately likely to rely on conservative news websites for their news or other news sources.

CBS and Yahoo News are YouGov clients who had no involvement in this poll or analysis.

— Taylor Orth, Carl Bialik, and Kathy Frankovic contributed to this article

See more on the latest Economist/YouGov poll