Trust in Media 2024: Which news sources Americans trust — and which they think lean left or right

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
May 30, 2024, 12:43 PM GMT+0

The American news landscape is fractured and polarized, with no outlet singularly gaining the public's attention or trust. Party identification, and to some extent age, divide American media consumption. Most adults say that at least half their news consumption is politics-related, and most major news sources are perceived by Americans as either left- or right-leaning.

Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to trust the news in general, as well as to trust most specific outlets. Republicans — and Americans in general — are more likely to classify news sources as liberal than as conservative, though there are exceptions. Democrats and Republicans find some common ground when it comes to sources for financial news, but hold vastly different opinions on other news sources, including the two used most often: CNN and Fox News.

In our latest poll, we ask Americans about each of 52 news sources, including their use of each in the past month, its trustworthiness, and its ideological lean. In doing so, we revisit questions asked on a similar survey conducted roughly a year ago, in April 2023, with a handful of additions and removals.

The results reflect American views on the media and specific news sources — including opinions of many people who haven't recently gotten news from the outlets. Some news organizations are used more heavily or elicit opinions from more Americans, and these outlets tend to sit at the top and bottom of these charts.

The most and least trusted news sources

Like in last year's survey, we asked Americans in 2024 whether they find each of more than 50 outlets very trustworthy, trustworthy, untrustworthy, very untrustworthy, or neither trustworthy nor untrustworthy. Using these results, we calculate each outlet's net trust score — that is, how much more likely Americans are to say the source is trustworthy or very trustworthy than untrustworthy or very untrustworthy.

By this measure, The Weather Channel persists as the most trusted news source, as it was in 2022 and 2023: Americans are 43 percentage points more likely to call The Weather Channel trustworthy as they are to call it untrustworthy. The Weather Channel is followed by two public broadcasters: the BBC (+25) and PBS (+22). The Wall Street Journal (+22) ties with PBS for third place, and is the only organization that publishes a newspaper to rank within the top 10 most trusted outlets.

By far, the least-trusted outlet included in the poll is the National Enquirer (-44). The outlets trusted least besides the Enquirer are Infowars (-18) and Breitbart News (-13).

The same five outlets rank as the top five most trusted this year as did last year, in 2023 — with the BBC moving just ahead of PBS this time. Net trust in most outlets declined slightly this year, after a move in the opposite direction last year from 2022. Overall, trust in outlets polled all three years has changed little — as has their relative positions for trust.

Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say they trust the news in general, and the same is true for trust in specific news outlets. For 81% of the 52 news sources asked about, a greater share of Democrats trust than distrust them. That's true for just 25% of sources among Republicans.

While both Democrats and Republicans generally are more likely to trust certain television networks over print or online outlets, they differ on which networks they place their trust in. Democrats have the most trust in PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN, while Republicans particularly trust Fox News, Fox Business Channel, and Newsmax.

There is little overlap in the sources that Democrats and Republicans find most trustworthy — other than The Weather Channel, which is trusted on both sides of the aisle. Just 13% of news outlets are more likely to be trusted than distrusted by members of both parties, and those that are somewhat bipartisan are focused — at least in name — on the economy or financial news. These include Business Insider, the Financial Times, Forbes, the Economist, and the Wall Street Journal.

There is even less partisan overlap when it comes to the specific news outlets Americans distrust. Only three are deemed more untrustworthy than trustworthy by both Democrats and Republicans: the National Enquirer, Infowars, and the Daily Caller.

CNN is the most politically polarizing, with a 96-point difference in net trust between Democrats and Republicans. Other networks that are trusted far more for news by Democrats than by Republicans include MSNBC (82-point difference), NBC (81 points), CBS (78 points), and ABC (76 points). Republicans, on the other hand, have a net trust that is 62 points higher than Democrats' for Fox News, and 51 points higher for Fox Business Channel.

People who have recently used each outlet for news are more likely than Americans overall to deem it trustworthy. Among the outlets for which this gap is largest are Al Jazeera (+71 net trust among recent users vs. -11 for Americans overall), Fox Business Channel (+72 vs. -2), OAN (+70 vs. -7), and Comedy Central (+55 vs. -12). These differences could have several causes, including that people tend not to use news they don't trust, that users are more inclined to say they trust the sources they already use, or that users have more familiarity with sources' trustworthiness.

Despite many Americans saying they consume news from social media, more believe it is untrustworthy than trustworthy, though YouTube and Linkedin are regarded slightly better than others. The least trusted social media platforms are TikTok, Facebook, and Snapchat. Truth Social — Donald Trump's platform — is the most polarizing, with Republicans being far more likely to trust it than Democrats. Among Republicans, Truth Social is the most trusted platform, but among Democrats, it is the least trusted. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to trust most other social media platforms, with the exception of X (previously Twitter). This marks a shift from last year's survey, which found greater trust in Twitter among Democrats than Republicans. In the past year, Democrats' trust in news from Truth Social and TikTok also has fallen.

Americans are divided by age over their trust in news from social media far more than over their trust in other sources of news. Adults under 45 are more trusting of news on social media platforms than older adults are — especially news from Instagram.

The most liberal and conservative news sources

Coming in a presidential-election year with greater supply and demand of political news, this survey included a series of questions about the ideological lean of each news source — that is, whether the outlet generally is liberal, moderate, conservative, or non-political. We determine a source's net-ideology score based on the difference between the share of Americans who say it is liberal and the share who say it is conservative.

Three times as many outlets are classified as liberal than are classified as conservative. The sources most likely to be viewed as liberal are MSNBC, Comedy Central, and CNN. Major print news outlets — including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post — also are significantly more likely to be characterized as liberal than as conservative (though still only around one-third of Americans or fewer overall classify each of them as liberal). Fox News, Fox Business, and Breitbart have the most conservative net-ideology scores, followed by Newsmax and OAN.

The sources most likely to be seen as moderate are television networks: CBS, NBC, ABC, and BBC. (All though are more likely to be seen as liberal than as conservative.) No outlet is classified as non-political by the majority of Americans; The Weather Channel has the highest share classifying it as non-political (43%). Just one-quarter say ESPN is non-political, and slightly fewer say People or Comedy Central are.

Nearly all news organizations are more likely to be viewed as liberal by Republicans than by Democrats. Most Republicans believe the news in general is liberal, and the same is true for many specific news sources. Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to characterize the news as moderate, though they do differentiate between individual outlets.

Some outlets are viewed as right-leaning by Democrats but as left-leaning by Republicans. These include business-focused outlets Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes, as well as tabloids the National Enquirer and the New York Post. All of the outlets that Republicans consider conservative-leaning, Democrats do as well — and to an even greater extent. A handful of outlets are considered to have about the same ideological lean by both Democrats and Republicans, including Comedy Central, The Weather Channel, and Newsmax.

The news outlets that Americans consider to be the most conservative are among the least trusted, according to our survey. No outlet considered conservative has a positive net-trust score. However, some sources perceived as liberal-leaning are also broadly distrusted by Americans overall, including Comedy Central and Al Jazeera. Many of the sources with the highest trust ratings are ones that Americans don't perceive as particularly liberal or conservative, though that also applies to the least trusted overall: the National Enquirer.

Where Americans get their news

Eight in 10 Americans have gotten news from at least one of two sources in the past month: television or social media. The popularity of each format of news consumption is split by age: Younger adults are most likely to have used social media for news, while a majority of older people have relied on television. Age also divides other forms of news consumption, with young adults being more likely to have gotten news from video platforms, and older people from print newspapers. Four in 10 Americans say they've heard about news from a friend, family member, or acquaintance. News apps and websites are also common ways to receive news, followed by radio and podcasts. 16% have used print newspapers for news, including 21% of Americans 45 and older and 11% of younger adults.

Among the 52 outlets polled about, Fox News (34%) and CNN (32%) top the list in terms of the share of Americans who say they've used each as a source for news in the past month. Other major networks also rank highly in usage, including NBC (29%), ABC (29%), and CBS (28%). The New York Times is the most-read print news source, with 24% saying they've used it for news in the last month. Yahoo News is the most likely to have been used among exclusively online news sources: 20% have used it. Each of the 45 other news sources included in the survey were used by fewer than one in five Americans.

Republicans' news sources are somewhat more consolidated than Democrats'; 54% of Republicans say they've used Fox News in the past month, while fewer than 25% of Republicans say the same about any other news source. Democrats use a wider variety of outlets in the poll: About half have recently used CNN (48%) and more than 25% have used each of CBS, NBC, ABC, the New York Times, MSNBC, and the Washington Post.

Adults under 45 are somewhat more likely than older Americans to say they've gotten news from the New York Times, and less likely to have gotten it from television networks including CBS, ABC, NBC, and Newsmax.

More Americans say they've gotten news from social media networks Facebook (40%) or YouTube (39%) than from any of the individual news outlets polled. Younger Americans are especially likely to rely on the social media outlets asked about: 50% of adults under 45 say they've used Facebook for news in the past month, compared to just 31% of older adults. One-quarter of Americans (24%) have seen news in the past month on Instagram, 21% on X (previously known as Twitter), 16% on TikTok, and 11% on Reddit.

News aggregation sites also are a common way to consume news, though Americans may not be aware of that category name and what it includes. Twice as many say they've gotten news from Google News in the past month (33%) than say they've received it from online news aggregators in general (17%). Apple News (14%) comes in second.

More Americans say they very often consume national news (48%) than local (40%) or international news (28%). Just 17% say they currently pay for a news subscription, with higher proportions among Americans 65 and older (25%) and those in families earning at least $100,000 annually (35%).

Interested in learning more?

Explore and download results from our survey below.

Editor's Note: While several of the media outlets or social media networks are YouGov clients, no client had any involvement in this poll or analysis.

See the results from this YouGov poll conducted May 10 - 17, 2024

Methodology: The poll was conducted among 2,006 U.S. adult citizens from May 10 - 17, 2024. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

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