Fox News named most trusted TV news source.
Fox News named least trusted TV news source.
Which headline do you prefer? And what if I told you it didn’t matter?
Public Policy Polling — to be fair, an organization that Slate recognized as a left-leaning group, it should be said — released the results of a survey today that highlights how American voters feel about the current state of television news coverage. The results, as you can see by the top two sentences of this particular blog post, found almost exactly what you thought it would find: Everybody loves Fox News. Everybody hates Fox News.
In a related study, the group also found that “Homeland” isn’t as good as people want you to believe it is, and MTV hardly ever plays music videos anymore.
Oh, but the numbers. We always have fun with the numbers, don’t we? Let’s dive a little further into the meat of this exercise.
Of the eight networks listed and the one “Someone else/Not sure” category, the most trusted networks broke down as such:
Fox: 34 percent
PBS: 13 percent
CNN: 12 percent
ABC: 11 percent
MSNBC: 8 percent
Someone else/Not sure: 7 percent
CBS: 6 percent
NBC: 5 percent
And … wait for it …
Comedy Central — yes, that Comedy Central — managed a whopping 5 percent.
Brian Williams or “South Park.” Equally as informative. Maybe more telling: Old, Mr. Not Sure is far more reliable than two of the three most recognizable channels on television.
Now, let’s flip it. Of the eight networks listed and the one “Someone else/Not sure” category, the least trusted networks broke down as such:
Fox: 39 percent
MSNBC: 14 percent
CNN: 13 percent
Comedy Central: 12 percent
Someone else/Not sure: 9 percent
ABC: 5 percent
CBS: 5 percent
NBC: 3 percent
PBS: 1 percent
Somewhere, Rachel Maddow is furiously typing an essay about this while Roger Ailes is smoking a cigar and printing “I H8 Obama” pins.
The biggest loser in all of this? Actually, you’ve gotta think it’s MSNBC, right? I mean, Fox will always be the headline, but NBC’s adopted daughter seems to really be taking the hit from the general populous. Why is that? Well, that’s because it has become the de-facto head-to-head competitor with Fox News, the lefties leaning its way and the righties leaning the other. And while the network finished in the 5 spot in the most trusted list, it lands at No. 2 in the least trusted.
Oh, but there’s more.
What may be the most damaging nugget of information here is actually the number it generated, rather than the rank it obtained. A mere 8 percent of people voted for MSNBC, period, for the most trusted list and even though the network landed the second spot in the least trusted … it still only managed a meager 14 percent of the votes.
Now is the time where I point out that the opposite of love isn’t hate — it’s indifference. In the very warped and very strange media world we currently reside, it’s just as valuable to have people hate you as it is for them to love you. If they feel nothing altogether, you hate no eyeballs on your product. If you have no eyeballs on your product, you have no ratings. If you have no ratings, you have no advertisers. If you have no advertisers … well, you get it.
It should also be noted that when asked directly if voters trusted MSNBC at all, 35 percent said they did while 44 percent said they didn’t. Fox News, meanwhile, had 41 percent in its favor and 46 percent against it. Maybe even more interesting is the fact that 21 percent of the people claimed they weren’t sure if they trusted MSNBC at all. Thus the question must be asked: Were those people not sure because they hadn’t seen it, or were those people not sure because they actually, truly, madly, deeply weren’t sure?
Oh, if we only knew the answer.
And yes, I’ll abstain from the thousands of jokes Comedy Central’s presence in all this provides.
If you have an extra 10 minutes and feel like looking at numbers and acronyms, you can view the entire thing here. Honestly — there’s some interesting stuff.