A new Gallup poll shows that just 21 percent of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in TV news – a drop of 25 percent since 1993! And only 25 percent expressed confidence in newspapers. But these numbers should come as no surprise when Teapublican nitwits such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have long decried the lamestream media. Indeed, the right has been trying to kill the messenger since the 1970s during the Nixon-Agnew administration.
Of course, among right-wing idealogues, theres no lack of confidence in Fox News Channel despite a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey that found that those who rely on Fox News Channel for news are less informed than those who watch no TV news at all.
In reality, the US news media have earned their lack of trust. Since the major networks succumbed to the ratings chase in the 1980s, they have emasculated their news gathering operations and replaced real debate with screaming talking heads from each side of the political spectrum.
Radio is even worse. Since repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, commercial radio has been taken over by right-wing lunatics such as Rush Limbaugh.
And, as subscribers abandon home-delivered newspapers in favor of on-line versions, publishers have been unable to devote resources to traditional news gathering.
So where can Americans turn for reliable news? Id suggest National Public Radio and the BBC. Both are politically neutral organizations with large news gathering operations. But, in reality, most people will continue to ignore the news (except for the most sensational stories) or turn to (gasp) the Internet for information.
As a result, Im not hopeful for our future.