Flash! Fox News is the most trusted network ... and the least trusted

Americans rank Fox News as No. 1 most trusted television news network, a new poll finds. But a similar percentage ranks Fox at the bottom. Why? Republicans like Fox. Democrats don't.

Alex Kroke/Fox/AP
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly poses at the anchor desk at the Fox studios in New York in 2012.

Which television network do most Americans flip to when seeking unbiased reporting? Well, the answer is not clear.

According to Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democratic-leaning polling firm based in Raleigh, N.C., more Americans (35 percent) say they trust Fox News than any other television news network. This puts Fox ahead of all other networks including PBS (14 percent), ABC (11 percent), CNN (10 percent), CBS (9 percent), Comedy Central and MSNBC (6 percent each), and NBC (3 percent).

However, when assessing the “least trusted” network, Fox News also came in at No. 1, with 33 percent agreeing. MSNBC was the second least trusted network (19 percent), followed by Comedy Central (14 percent), CNN (11 percent), ABC (5 percent), CBS (4 percent), and NBC and PBS, which received 2 percent each.

The reason, PPP experts say, is party affiliation. Republicans are much more aligned with Fox News than are Democrats. In fact, 69 percent of Republicans prefer the network, with no other network polling above 7 percent for GOP viewers. Democrats are united more in their dislike of Fox News. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats agree that Fox News is the least trusted network; Comedy Central came in a distant second at 18 percent.

“Republicans trust Fox News, but not much else, while Democrats trust everything except Fox News. Our country is just as polarized on TV news as it is on most hot button issues,” said PPP President Dean Debnam, in a statement.

A clearer snapshot of television news allegiance might be this one: When PPP asked respondents what they thought of networks individually, PBS received the highest approval for trustworthiness (57 percent). Democrats were most likely to say it is trustworthy (80 percent to 6 percent), while Republicans were more evenly divided at 38 percent each. 

In case you were wondering, if Americans were faced with a 2016 presidential choice between Fox New pundit Bill O’Reilly and Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, they were relatively split: Mr. O’Reilly got the nod from 38 percent; Mr. Colbert, from 35 percent.

Don’t fret Colbert Nation. Thirty-eight percent polled said Colbert has better hair, compared with just 13 percent for O'Reilly.

PPP conducted the poll Jan. 23-26 among 845 registered voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percent.

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