Two new polls this week capture the zeitgeist of 2018 pretty succinctly, first an Axios/Survey Monkey poll finds nearly three-quarters of Americans now believe major news outlets intentionally broadcast "fake news".
Seventy-two percent of Americans believe "traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false, or purposely misleading," according to a new poll from Axios and SurveyMonkey released on Thursday.
The poll of nearly 4,000 adults shows that 92 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents "say that traditional news outlets knowingly report false or misleading stories at least sometimes," a finding in line with other recent polls conducted by Pew Research and Gallup.
It found the sentiment extends to those who identify as independents and Democrats, with 79 percent of independents also saying traditional outlets knowingly report false or misleading stories at least sometimes. Democrats agree by a slight majority of 53 percent.
The poll also found that almost two-thirds of those polled say fake news "is usually reported because people have an agenda." About one-third of those polled say false information is reported because of "poor fact-checking" or laziness.
A very small percentage, or three percent, say fake news "makes headlines by accident."
Fifty-seven percent of Democrats say they use Google searches to verify facts. Less than half of Republicans, or 48 percent, do the same.
In terms of using fact-checking websites such as FactCheck.org or Snopes.com, 43 percent of Democrats say they utilize such resources, while only 30 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of independents do the same.
Trust in media was once at 74 percent in 1976 in the post-Watergate reporting era, according to Gallup.
That number dropped to 32 percent in 2016, the last time Gallup polled on the question. Just 14 percent of Republicans said they trusted the media in that poll.
Even half of Democrats admit that they believe major news outlets intentionally report false stories. Same goes for nearly 80% of independents. And Republicans? Over 90%. We're way past the era where hard-hitting journalism is going to stop Trump's abuses of power, Republicans don't believe a single word of news stories anymore that are critical of the regime.
The right-wing noise machine has won a resounding victory. The free press is irrelevant if nobody believes it.
Oh, but it gets worse. Paranoia is becoming far more rampant.
Most voters fear that political violence is coming from opponents of the president’s policies, just as they did in the second year of Barack Obama’s presidency, and nearly one-in-three think a civil war is next.
Thirty-one percent (31%) of Likely U.S. Voters say it’s likely that the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years, with 11% who say it’s Very Likely. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 59% consider a second civil war unlikely, but that includes only 29% who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Democrats (37%) are more fearful than Republicans (32%) and voters not affiliated with either major party (26%) that a second civil war is at hand.
But 59% of all voters are concerned that those opposed to President Trump’s policies will resort to violence, with 33% who are Very Concerned. This compares to 53% and 28% respectively in the spring of Obama’s second year in office. Thirty-seven percent (37%) don’t share that concern, including 16% who are Not At All Concerned.
Fifty-three percent (53%) are concerned that those critical of the media’s coverage of Trump will resort to violence, with 24% who are Very Concerned. Forty-two percent (42%) are not concerned about violence from media opponents, including 17% who are Not At All Concerned.
It's easy to say the ignorance on display in the first poll leads to the paranoia in the second, but there's also the very real calls by Donald Trump for violence against his critics and the media, on a number of occasions.
I don;t believe things are getting that violent yet, but I certainly think it can happen, and quickly.