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April 3, 2018, 11:35 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: www.monmouth.edu  ➚   |   Posted by: Christine Schmidt   |   April 3, 2018

On the heels of International Fact-Checking Day, a poll from Monmouth University concludes that many Americans think fake news isn’t just for Macedonian teens looking for a side-hustle: An alarming number believe that traditional news organizations report fake news on the regular and that individuals are “actively trying” to plant fake stories in mainstream media. Still, by a 48-to-35 percent margin, more Americans still trust CNN than they trust President Trump. But that trust is deeply divided by partisanship: 80 percent of Democrats trust CNN more, while 75 percent of Republicans trust Trump more.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Monmouth contacted a national random sample of 803 adults in the U.S., half by landline and half by cell phone, all in English — in early March before the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook news broke. Some top-line findings:

— What is “fake news”? Academics of misinformation and journalists alike have been trying to put better labels on the situation, but only 25 percent said “fake news” applies only to stories where the facts are wrong. 65 percent said it “also applies to how news outlets make editorial decisions about what they choose to report.” Chalk one up to the president’s ongoing campaign to label news he doesn’t like “fake.” (If we can’t agree on a definition, can we poll conclusively about it? Keep that grain of salt close…)

— 69 percent of Americans said social media sites are not doing enough to quash the spread of fake news on their platforms, though 60 percent said, additionally, that while social media sites are partly responsible, other media sources are more responsible. The number of people who think online news sources report fake news on a regular basis has risen from 41 percent a year ago to 52 percent in the latest poll.

“Confidence in an independent fourth estate is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy. Ours appears to be headed for the intensive care unit,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth arm behind the poll.

The poll, whose full data can be found here, has already served as a rallying cry — for many sides.

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