A new poll has taken measure of how Americans feel about where they get their TV news. And in the battle of TV news sources, Americans say two outlets stand out as being remarkably trustworthy: PBS News and Fox News.
The difference in who wins lies in how you ask the questions. Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling organization, first asked 845 registered voters about different news sources on an individual basis. Below are respondents' answers.
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PBS is trusted by far the biggest share of people, 57 percent, followed by Fox News, at 44 percent (the survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent). However, Fox News also has an almost equal share (42 percent) that say they do not trust it. One way to account for this is subtracting the number of people who say they "don't trust" an outlet from those who way they do trust it, making a measure of net trust. By this measure, PBS stands out as far and away the most trusted TV news source.
Interestingly, these levels of trust appear to be strongly tied to party identification. Fox News was the only source a majority of Republicans said they trusted (75 percent). Meanwhile, a majority of Democrats trusted nearly every source, except Comedy Central (50 percent) and Fox News (20 percent).
When it's a question of degree, however, the numbers shift dramatically. When respondents were asked to name the source they trust the most, Fox News came out on top, with 35 percent. The second-closest source was PBS, with 14 percent. However, when asked which source they trust the least, Fox News also came out far and away in front, at 33 percent – well ahead of No. 2 MSNBC, with 19 percent.
By this measure, Fox News is by far more trusted and less trusted than any other news source. So while it could argue both, it also may be true to say it is the most polarizing TV news source. Fully 68 percent of respondents named Fox News at the top of either list, more than twice as many as the next-highest source, MSNBC, with 25 percent.