51% gave Bill O’Reilly the benefit of the doubt.
In 2014, Fox News was the most trusted news source in America. In 2015 — weeks after Bill O’Reilly was exposed for lying — Americans still believe Fox is the most trustworthy source of information.
The Quinnipiac University poll, released Monday, found that among television news, 29% of Americans trust Fox to be honest while only 22% trust CNN and 7% put faith in MSNBC. CBS and NBC earned 10% while ABC received 7%.
The poll highlights a common pattern in the quintessential behavior of many Americans: a habit of buying into lies even after they have been exposed as such.
Americans were lied to about the scope of domestic surveillance — and to their credit were incensed for a short while. Many have reverted to believing the lies of politicians that bulk spying and storing their selfies is necessary to keep them safe from terrorists.
The FBI has been caught lying about foiling terrorist plots when they, in fact, created them by framing innocent, unstable individuals. Still, Americans believe terrorism is the number one issue that needs to be addressed (likely in part because CNN and Fox replayed ISIS beheading videos ad nauseam in between breaking coverage of internet cats and Justin Bieber).
Americans were told there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq over a decade ago. They found out it was a flagrant manipulation of reality, but many continued to support the president and war. The military has not been curbed since the invasion of Iraq. Rather, Americans are still hung up on the same fear-mongering that politicians spew about Iran and its potential nuclear bomb.
Clearly, Americans are unconcerned with the truth. The poll demonstrated this with 42% of registered voters saying Brian Williams, another lying “journalist,” should be given his job back. 51% gave Bill O’Reilly the benefit of the doubt, claiming they didn’t know enough about his situation to say whether he should be fired, suspended, or allowed to continue.
The average American is evidently a long way from seeking “truth” beyond what their televisions tell them to believe. The tendency to learn of being lied to yet still feed into the lies is ultimately a reflection of the power of fear. Both the corporate media and the government capitalize on a terrified population that will sacrifice anything for illusory security.
On the bright side, 48% of those polled believed news is less trustworthy than it was in the prime era of network news. 35% believed it was the same. A mere 7% of poor fools believed television news is now more trustworthy.
This reflects a broader trend in the growing distrust of corporate media outlets that is accompanied by a surge in the popularity of independent news organizations. Though the Quinnipiac poll has dark implications for now, there is still reason to be optimistic for the evolving future of information and those who seek it.
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