ABC News demonstrates why so many Americans distrust the media

Most people in this country don’t trust the media.

Gallup, which runs an annual tracking poll on public perception of the media, asks a rather simple question to people every year. “How much trust and confidence do you have in the mass media — such as newspapers, TV and radio — when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly?”

Respondents are able to answer either a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or none at all.

In their September 2016 survey, only 32 percent of Americans answered either “a great deal” or “a fair amount.”

Let that sink in for a minute. That result means that 68 percent of Americans answered “not very much” or “none at all.”

ABC News is defending itself against charges that it was afraid to air an interview with a Jeffrey Epstein accuser after video emerged Tuesday showing ABC anchor Amy Robach venting about her story not airing on the network. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Not surprisingly, Republicans had far less faith in the news media than Democrats. Only 14 percent of Republicans expressed any kind of faith in the media, while 51 percent of Democrats did. Interestingly, though, only 30 percent of independent voters trusted the media.

You can blame Donald Trump if you want. I get why you might want to, as he coined the pejorative term “fake news” for coverage he didn’t like, and seems to be in a one man war against the news media. But if you think this has anything to do with him, you are wrong.

Understand that Trump’s antagonism to the media is an effect of, not a cause of, Republican distrust. Those of us on the right-wing of the political spectrum have been distrustful and outright hostile to the media for a very, very long time. Trump’s usage of the media as a foil was nothing more than a clever reflection of what his voting base already believed.

It has been in the low 30s or below since President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, when Dan Rather and friends at CBS News ran a fake story on Bush’s National Guard Service.

But Republicans aren’t the only ones dropping. Democratic trust had hit as high as 70 percent in 2005, and independents were routinely hovering around the 50 percent mark until after that same year.

Now, to be fair, since 2016 the trust in media has recovered slightly in the Gallup survey. In this year’s poll the trust number was at 41 percent. But don’t be fooled, the only reason for the marginal recovery was a shift in Democratic opinion, which is back up to 69 percent due to the media savagery of Trump, which they gleefully cheer. Republican and independent trust remains in the toilet.

So at the core of it, why is there such blanket mistrust of the media among most of the country?

For an answer, let’s turn to a completely non-political topic like the reporting about Jeffrey Epstein’s horrific crimes.

In a stunning admission leaked on Tuesday by Project Veritas, ABC News anchor Amy Robach was caught venting her frustrations about her station refusing to air her interview with Epstein victim Virginia Roberts, and thus not allowing her to break the story wide open.

“I’ve had the story for three years. I had this interview with Virginia Roberts. We would not put it on the air,” she said. Robach then goes on to complain that the higher-ups at ABC said it was a “stupid story” because no one knew who Epstein was.

“The [British royal] Palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways,” she continued. Then, with audible contempt in her voice, she snarled, “we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to interview Kate [Middleton] and Will that we… that also quashed the story.”

The rest of Robach’s unguarded rant is incredible to listen to. How she had everything, including pictures, corroboration from other women and information from Brad Edwards, the attorney for several Epstein accusers.

And what does ABC News do to respond to this situation? It issues a pathetic statement — which no one believes — claiming that the story was spiked because it didn’t meet their exacting journalistic standards.

This, by the way, is the same ABC News that three weeks ago ran footage of explosions at a Kentucky gun range and claimed they were shots of the Turkish military bombing the Kurds in Syria after Trump announced a withdrawal of American troops from the region.

The same ABC News that had no problem running unverified, laughably uncredible accusations made by Julie Swetnick, accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and hanging out at gang rape parties.

But sure, in this case, it must have been those exacting standards, rather than their fear of confronting their powerful, well connected friends, or jeopardizing the tabloid, click-baity shlock they rely on for revenue, that led to the story being killed.

And the media wonders why we don’t trust them.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.