When Honesty Is No Longer a Factor in Who To Trust
The other day, Bernie Goldberg wrote a column on this site that referenced a recent CBS news poll. The poll revealed some rather interesting statistics, especially about those who describe themselves as "strong" supporters of President Trump.
When asked who they trust to provide them with "accurate" information, even if they don't necessarily agree with the personal views of those providing the information, only 11% of this group listed the mainstream media.
This, of course, is no surprise — unless maybe you're surprised by how high that number is. The U.S. news media has had a genuine, widespread problem with liberal bias for many years (countless examples have been documented on this website). That bias has understandably caused long-term frustration for people on the right, to the point where President Trump's "Fake News" mantra has compelled a large portion of the base to believe that virtually any negative coverage of our president or his administration is either fabricated or highly misleading.
The more intriguing numbers didn't involve the news media at all.
According to the poll, a whopping 91% of these strong Trump supporters trust that Trump himself provides them with accurate information. Keep in mind that the question wasn't about whether they like the president or if they think he's doing a good job (the answer to both of those questions would assuredly be yes). The question was about the accuracy of what he says.
In reality, Trump habitually and routinely spreads false information. He lies about small things, he lies about big things, he fabricates facts, and he advances unfounded conspiracy theories.
Yet, 91% trust him for information that is "accurate."
This is why it's hard to take seriously the Trump supporters I often hear from who insist that our president's deceitful rhetoric is inconsequential, and that it shouldn't be taken "literally."
A big problem, however, is that it is being taken literally (as the poll suggests) by the overwhelming majority of firm Trump supporters in this country — a number that probably translates to about one third of the American electorate (even more if you believe what those supporters say). And if someone's trying to make the argument that it's inconsequential for a significant portion of the American electorate to place trust in the accuracy of a chronically and demonstrably inaccurate source of information, how on earth can that same person continue to complain about media bias?
Media bias has long been identified by those of us on the right as a major problem because it taints public opinion through incomplete data and misleading narratives. But these days, few of us seem to care, only seeing misinformation as damaging when it comes from the other side.
Lastly, 63% of strong Trump supporters said that they trust their "friends and family" for accurate information — almost 30% fewer than the number that place their confidence in what Trump says. I suppose this shouldn't have surprised me, being that a lot of these folks defend Trump more fervently than the average parent would defend his or her own children. Still, it's a pretty sad statement.
The most amusing responses to Bernie's column were related to this discrepancy between the trust placed in Trump and the trust placed in friends and family. A number of people in the comment section and on social media were eager to rationalize the poll's findings, and their explanations were pretty telling.
Here are a few:
"The article doesn’t say if the family members are Progressive Leftists. If that’s the case , I wouldn’t trust what they said either."
"Yeah families are pretty f---ed up these days...."
"I would say a good 90% of my friends and family are liberal democrats. The number is probably higher. Some of them hate the president so much they're approaching psychosis. I mean, the hatred literally consumes their day. So why should I turn to them when looking for 'accurate information'?"
"NONE of the womyn in my family will EVER get over Hillary not becoming '45'. Why would I rely on those people for news?"
"No, I won't believe my 'crazy uncle' that listens to Alex Jones (or Luis Farrakhan) over the President I 'strongly support'."
I particularly liked the last comment, being that no one has done more to legitimize Alex Jones than Donald Trump himself, who actually went on Jones's radio show and described the vile conspiracy theorist as having an "amazing" reputation. Does that mean Trump's the crazy uncle?
Now, I can certainly appreciate that some people wouldn't want to invest an abundance of confidence in the information put forth by certain family members (we can't pick our family, after all). Friends are a different story, however, being that trust is typically the very foundation of friendship.
Regardless, if you're inclined to trust the word of a politician (especially one who has proven himself to be pathologically dishonest) over the people closest in your life, it might be time to question whether your devotion to that politician has turned into a religion. It also might be time to develop better personal relationships in your life.