Unless you have spent the last few years on another planet, that programming decision won’t surprise you. Fox has relentlessly promoted and defended Trump — and he has responded in kind by showering its hosts with coveted interviews.
But what’s terrifying about how Fox News is choosing to cover (or not cover) the impeachment trial is revealed in new polling from the Pew Research Center delving into trust (or lack thereof) in the media.
Asked to name media companies in which they have trust, 65% of Republicans named Fox News. One in 3 named ABC. And that’s it. Not a single other news source was trusted by even 33% of self-identified Republicans in the Pew poll.
That’s in stark contrast to both Democrats and the population at large. More than 1 in 3 Democrats named 13 media sources they trust. The general public named 8: ABC (48% trusted), CNN (47%), NBC (47%), CBS (45%), Fox News (43%), PBS (42%), BBC (35%), The New York Times (35%) and MSNBC (34%). (Note: The pollsters went through 30 media sources with the respondents.)
Here’s the full chart:
Now, consider what those numbers mean.
A majority of Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) don’t trust ANY media company other than Fox News. And two thirds don’t trust ANY media companies other than Fox News and ABC. The next 3 most-trusted media sourced among Republicans? CBS, NBC and, wait for it, the Sean Hannity radio show — all of which are trusted by 3 in 10 people. Eighteen of the 30 media courses that Pew asked about were trusted by less than 1 in 5 Republicans and Republican-leaners.
If you only trust one news outlet and that news outlet is telling a very different — and factually challenged — version of current events, a massive disconnect is created. It’s not too much to say that Fox News viewers are occupying a different (and less fact-based) reality than the people who seek out other sources for their news.
And it is into that disconnect, that information void, that Trump has leaped — and now resides. What Trump has done and is doing is use his own massive social media following to amplify the messages on national news offered by Fox News. Trump regularly tweets and retweets Fox News segments to his 71+ million Twitter followers. He often directly quotes from Fox personalities. He works to create a totally closed information ecosystem for his supporters — and largely succeeds.
That so many Republicans believe a) Fox is the only network to be trusted and b) trust in Trump despite his demonstrated lack of concern for telling the truth allows both the network and Trump to succeed. But their success comes at a price. A big one. And one that we will continue to pay for years and years to come.