Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Americans are increasingly mistrustful, confused with U.S. news media. (Photo: Jovo Marjanovic/EyeEm via Getty Images)

'Impossible for Democracy to Function': Study Reveals Growing Mistrust of American Media

The findings from the Knight Foundation and Gallup suggest lack of trust in news media has far-reaching effects. 

Lisa Newcomb

A report released this week indicates the majority of Americans believe the media plays a critical role in democracy—and think United States news outlets are failing to deliver accurate coverage.

"That's a bad thing for democracy," John Sands, director of learning and impact at the Knight Foundation, which conducted the study in conjunction with Gallup, told the Associated Press. "Our concern is that when half of Americans have some sort of doubt about the veracity of the news they consume, it's going to be impossible for our democracy to function."

According to the report,

Less than half of Americans, 44%, say they can think of a news source that reports the news objectively. Republicans who can name an accurate source overwhelmingly mention Fox News, while Democrats' responses are more varied.

The Knight Foundation, referencing data from pre-Covid-19 pandemic polling, reports that a majority of U.S. adults consider "fake news" to be a threat to democracy. Four in 10 Republicans surveyed consider accurate news coverage that cast a politician or political group in a negative light to always be "fake news."

Americans on the whole, however, remain skeptical of information coming from the White House. A report released in June by the Pew Research Center shows citizens overwhelmingly trust news about Covid-19 from the CDC rather than the Trump administration. Trump's public disdain for CDC guidelines around Covid-19 and his active attempts to discredit top scientists, including the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have been the subject of much debate in recent months as the United States continues to lead the world in Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Social media has continued to gain ground as being a news source, with the Knight Foundation reporting an equal number of survey participants rely on newspapers as rely on social media for information.

However, a July 30 report by the Pew Research Foundation shows that people who rely on social media for news are "less likely to get the facts right about the coronavirus and politics and more likely to hear some unproven claims." 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo