Is Fox News Really The Most Trusted News Network?

by Clarissa-Jan Lim

When it was revealed that Brian Williams lied about some of his biggest claims of his career, TV news networks as a whole took a huge hit as audiences found that one of their most trusted news anchors was, in fact, not as credible as they had previously thought. Now, perhaps indicating the sorry state of American broadcast journalism today, a Quinnipiac University poll found that Fox News was the most trusted news network in the country, beating out a whole host of other news channels by a substantial margin.

According to the poll, respondents said that they consistently trusted local news sources the most. But nationally, Fox News ranked at the top in terms of trustworthiness — 20 percent had "a great deal" of confidence in the conservative network and 35 percent "somewhat" so. Coming in second was CNN with 22 percent, then CBS News and NBC News tied at 10 percent, ABC News at 8 percent and lastly, MSNBC at 7 percent.

As far as party lines go, 58 percent of Republicans trusted Fox News the most, naturally, over CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, and MSNBC. Meanwhile, 32 percent of Democrats preferred CNN, over Fox News at three percent, and a mere 14 percent said they trusted MSNBC — showing that MSNBC, unlike its conservative counterpart Fox News, does not seem to be able to pull the same weight among its target audience.

But the right-leaning network's supremacy in credibility, though surprising (at least to me), is backed up by its strong ratings. In 2014, Fox News was second in total viewers only to ESPN among all ad-supported basic cable networks, with the often-absurd "O"Reilly Factor" segment marking its 15th consecutive year as the first cable news program in its time slot among adults 25-54 and total viewers, reported Variety. 51 percent of those who responded to Quinnipiac's survey said they hadn't heard enough about Bill O'Reilly's lies about his war correspondence to form an opinion, and only 12 percent said he should be fired.

Based on the poll, it would be reasonable to conclude that Fox News, despite its anchors' frequent complaints about the mainstream media, is the mainstream media for many American viewers. However, a past study found that those who watched Fox News exclusively were more misinformed than those who don't watch the news at all, a scathing conclusion of the conservative network's quality of reporting.

Overall, respondents lean toward agreement that TV news networks don't hold the same clout that they once did — 48 percent said it is "less trustworthy than in the days of Walter Cronkite."

Image: O'Reilly Factor/Fox News; Ann Coulter/Fox News