It’s a mystery.
The New Yorker goes where every elite media pub has gone before and asks the big question.
When Americans Lost Faith in the News
You know where this begins, as usual, in the lost Eden when everyone trusted the media.
With Trump, all that changed. Trump is rude. Cordiality is not a feature of his brand. And there is no coöperation in the Trump world, because everything is an agon. Trump waged war on the press, and he won, or nearly won. He persuaded millions of Americans not to believe anything they saw or heard in the non-Trumpified media, including, ultimately, the results of the 2020 Presidential election.The press wasn’t silenced in the Trump years. The press was discredited, at least among Trump supporters, and that worked just as well. It was censorship by other means.
Back in 1976, even after Vietnam and Watergate, seventy-two per cent of the public said they trusted the news media. Today, the figure is thirty-four per cent. Among Republicans, it’s fourteen per cent.
“Newsrooms that move beyond ‘objectivity’ can build trust” – Leonard Downie Jr / Washington Post:
“In the memoir slash manifesto “Newsroom Confidential: Lessons (and Worries) from an Ink-Stained Life” (St. Martin’s), Margaret Sullivan argues that objectivity is not so much impossible today as meaningless, and that the press ought to stop striving to achieve it. The events of 2020 and 2021 showed that the press’s values were in the wrong place. “The extreme right wing had its staunch all-in media allies,” she writes. “The rest of the country had a mainstream press that too often couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do their jobs. Too many journalists couldn’t seem to grasp their crucial role in American democracy.”
“The power of the press, such as it is, is like the power of academic scholars, scientific researchers, and Supreme Court Justices. It is not backed by force. It rests on faith: the belief that these are groups of people dedicated to pursuing the truth without fear or favor. Once they disclaim that function, they will be perceived in the way everyone else is now perceived, as spinning for gain or status.”