Cristiano Lima — Politico April 2, 2018
President Donald Trump is not alone in thinking media outlets spread “fake news.”
More than 3-in-4 of 803 American respondents, or 77 percent, said they believe that major traditional television and newspaper media outlets report “fake news,” according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday, marking a sharp increase in distrust of those news organizations from a year ago, when 63 percent registered concerns about the spread of misinformation.
Among those, 31 percent said they believe those media outlets spread “fake news” regularly, and 46 percent said it happens occasionally.
The findings also showed Americans diverging on what constitutes “fake news,” with 65 percent saying it applies broadly to the editorial decisions outlets make over what topics to cover and 25 percent more narrowly defining it to apply only to the spread of factually incorrect information.
The “fake news” moniker, which has become a rallying cry for Trump and his supporters, surprisingly gained popularity across partisan lines, including among Democrats. According to the Monmouth findings, 61 percent of Democrats believe outlets spread misinformation, up from 43 percent from last year. Belief in the spread of “fake news” by major news outlets also rose from 2017 to now among Republicans, up from 79 to 89 percent, and independents, rising from 66 percent to 82 percent.
Americans also are increasingly wary of the motivations behind allegedly misleading coverage, with 42 percent of respondents saying they believe that major outlets disseminate misinformation to push a political agenda.
Eighty-three percent, according to the poll, said they believed outside interest groups try to plant fake stories in major publications to spread “fake news.” Americans said they think the trend is particularly pervasive on social media, with 87 percent saying interest groups try to plant fake news on sites like Facebook and YouTube.
The president took to Twitter on Monday morning to blast “Fake News Networks” — a nickname he has used to pillory CNN — for running critical pieces of Sinclair, the broadcasting giant that reportedly made dozens of local news anchors reads script warning about the spread of misinformation in the media.
“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke,” Trump wrote.
The Monmouth University poll included 803 adults and was conducted from March 2 to 5. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.