Trust in Media and Elected Officials Near Record Lows in Gallup Poll

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American confidence in media is at nearly the lowest level since the early 1970s. A new Gallup poll finds just 36 percent of survey respondents say they trust the press to report the news fully, fairly, and accurately (down from 40 percent who said the same last year).

This marks the second-lowest level of trust in media since Gallup started measuring trust in U.S. institutions in 1972. The record low came in 2016, when just 32 percent of people said they had either “a great deal” of trust in media or “a fair amount” of trust.

In 2021, 7 percent of those polled said they have a great deal of trust, and 29 percent a fair amount. Meanwhile, 29 percent have “not very much” trust in media and 34 percent “none at all.”

This is down significantly from the early 1970s (when 68–72 percent of people trusted mass media) and from the late 1990s. In 1997, 53 percent of people had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the press. But “trust in the media, which has averaged 45% since 1997, has not reached the majority level since 2003,” notes Gallup.

The poll—conducted September 1–17—also found waning trust in government:

Less than half of U.S. adults (44%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in people who hold or are running for public office, rivaling the record low of 42% from 2016. Meanwhile, a small majority (55%) express a similar level of confidence in the judgments of the American people under the democratic system, the lowest Gallup has measured to date but not meaningfully different from 56% readings in 2016 and 2020….

Gallup’s trends on these measures, dating back to 1972 (for politicians) and 1974 (for the American people), reflect a continuing decline in confidence in politicians and voters over the ensuing decades. Americans have been consistently more likely to express trust in voters than in people who hold or are running for public office, but both trends have generally ebbed in the 2000s and again in the 2010s.

In 1974, 68 percent of people Gallup surveyed said they had a great deal or a fair amount of trust in elected officials.

Trust in the federal government’s ability to handle foreign and domestic issues is also low.

“Trust in the federal government’s handling of international problems has fallen nine percentage points since last year to a record-low 39%, and now matches the level of trust for its handling of domestic problems,” Gallup reported in September. In addition, confidence in the judicial branch—while still at 54 percent—was down 13 percentage points from 2020.

“In every reading dating back to 1997, the public has expressed more trust in the judicial branch of the federal government than in the executive and legislative branches,” noted Gallup, and “over the past decade, U.S. adults’ confidence in the executive branch (headed by the president) has exceeded confidence in the legislative branch (composed of both houses of Congress).”

In September’s poll, 44 percent of Americans said they trust the executive branch and 37 percent said they trust Congress.


Google and YouTube are adding climate change denial content to the list of things you can’t say if you want to monetize your videos or websites. The ban applies to content that goes against “well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change,” and “includes content referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change.”

The move is part of an ever-expanding attempt to combat misinformation online, something tech companies have been under increasing pressure from lawmakers to do (or else). But in this case, Google cites not government pressure but advertiser and user wishes. From Axios:

Google said it’s making these changes in response to frustration from advertisers and content creators about their messages appearing alongside climate denialism.

  • “Advertisers simply don’t want their ads to appear next to this content. And publishers and creators don’t want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos,” the company said.

Yes, but: Google often makes changes to its ads policies to reduce misinformation, but this update is notable, given how hard it can be to characterize certain commentary about climate change as denialism or misinformation.

  • The tech giant says that when evaluating content against the new policy, “we’ll look carefully at the context in which claims are made, differentiating between content that states a false claim as fact, versus content that reports on or discusses that claim.”


Democrats disagree over spending priorities. With their $3.5 trillion spending bill looking less and less likely to become reality, Democrats are forced to prioritize—and some really don’t like it. But their infighting over what to spend on may prove a blessing in terms of stopping, at last, some of their more egregious spending plans. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D–Wash.), who chairs the New Democrat Coalition, told NBC News the 95-member coalition has four priorities:

Extending the $3,000 to $3,600 annual per-child cash payments to most families, continuing the expanded Obamacare subsidies under the American Rescue Plan, closing the Medicaid coverage gap and “going big” on measures to address climate change.

The narrower and deeper approach would avoid “short-term cliffs that mean important programs may not get extended,” she said.

But some leading progressives want to go in a different direction.

“If we have to trim a little, then what we would prefer to do is have our priorities and these programs fully represented but perhaps for a shorter number of years, because I don’t think we can pick and choose between child care and climate change,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the chair of the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Tuesday on MSNBC.

The contrasting views are a challenge for Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as they hear the demands of their members. The three leaders are tasked with crafting a massive bill that can pass through the slimmest of margins in Congress, with zero margin for error in the evenly split Senate and just three votes to lose in the House before it collapses.

All have their priorities. Not all can be met.


California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into a law a measure banning “stealthing” — that is, secretly taking off a condom without a sex partner’s consent. As Reason Roundup noted in September, the law would be a first of its kind in the U.S., effectively creating affirmative consent for condom removal. Under the new measure, “a person commits a sexual battery who causes contact between a sexual organ, from which a condom has been removed, and the intimate part of another who did not verbally consent to the condom being removed.”


• The Senate voted yesterday to raise the debt limit by an increase of $480 billion. “The breakthrough came less than two weeks before the US was set to be unable to borrow money or pay off loans for the first time ever,” notes the BBC. “US lawmakers will still have to address this issue near the new December deadline to avert a default.”

• In September, the unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent.

• The California school cop who shot a woman in the head as she was fleeing a fight is being investigated for homicide, the Long Beach Police Department announced yesterday.

• New Netflix movie The Guilty “isn’t as progressive and critical of cops as it pretends to be,” says Salon.

• America “is running out of everything,” complains Derek Thompson at The Atlantic. “The Everything Shortage is not the result of one big bottleneck in, say, Vietnamese factories or the American trucking industry. We are running low on supplies of all kinds due to a veritable hydra of bottlenecks.”

• A federal appeals court has “rejected a challenge from journalism associations seeking to argue against an exemption to Assembly Bill 5 that applied for freelance writers, arguing that it inhibited free speech,” reports The Hill. A.B. 5 is the California law that redefines many independent contractors and gig workers as employees.

• This looks dangerous:

The ENABLERS Act encapsulates a key idea that analysts say is, to a large degree, already standard in most other countries. The main provision is this: Lawyers, investment advisers, art dealers, realtors, accountants, public relations firms and others would be required to engage in some form of “due diligence” to ensure their clients aren’t paying with or trying to move around money of suspicious origin.

• More frightening tales from the college culture war:

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