Saturday, June 04, 2005

Public confidence high for Troops, low for MSM

A recent Gallup poll sought to gauge public confidence in a variety of institutions and found that the public overwhelmingly expresses confidence in our military and law enforcement. The same poll shows they have little confidence in our media agencies, specifically identifies as "newspapers" and "television news."

When asked the question, "I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one: a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little. . . ," 74% of respondents said "Quite a lot" or "A Great Deal" versus 25% who said "Some" or "Very Little". When asked about police forces, the respondents for the same categories numbered 63% in the higher confidence ranges and 36% in the lower ones. And how did the MSM fare? Newspapers: 28% in the high ranges, 70% in the low confidence categories. How about TV news? 28% versus 69%. (The 1% difference in the low ranges is accounted for in the people who answered "None", which was not one of the offered answers, but was recorded anyway.)

"Confidence" can be defined as "a feeling of trust (in someone or something); 'I have confidence in our team'; 'confidence is always borrowed, never owned'." This poll shows pretty conclusively that the public has trust in our military, which is a welcome revelation and not something I believe someone who formed their opinion from news reports would likely surmise. In spite of a relentless volley of negative reports (Abu Ghraib and Gitmo "Koran abuses") the public appears to understand that our military is comprised, by a huge measure, of the most ethical, professional and restrained soldiers the world has ever known, anywhere.

I would wager that the media's attempts to paint the military as a murderous band who level whole towns for fun and engage in the deliberate targeting of civilian journalists is a large part of the reason the media's confidence figures are the inverse of the military's. After being treated to over a year of running commentary about how evil the President is and how he's a lying bastard and then seeing the media engage in fraudulent reporting like the infamous CBS Memogate affair, it's not much of a stretch to think people wouldn't trust them. Add to that the recent Newsweek fiasco and the the resurrection of the baseless allegations of Eason Jordan by Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley and you've got a recipe for skepticism that just won't quit.

It's a shame, too. I know people in that industry and have had very interesting conversations and debates with several of them. Sure, they're a liberal bunch, by and large, but so what? The people I know personally are also honorable and don't condone media people who try to manufacture news stories out of nothing or who make accusations they have no proof for. They are passionate about their beliefs and are none to cautious about telling me they think I have my head stuck somewhere my anatomy shouldn't allow when we find ourselves on irreconcilable ground. They also understand that those issues are the ones where compromise is going to be necessary if we have to make a decision on them. What we don't have to compromise on is our mutual attitude that the national MSM is undermining their own credibility. Until they get it back together and start reporting the facts with an emphasis on portraying the entire story, not just the negative parts, they're going to continue to lose the confidence of the public. The public won't do without the news, so they'll just go elsewhere. Blogosphere, anyone?