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Public trust crumbles amid COVID, fake news: survey

14 Comments
By Mark John

Trust in governments, business chiefs and media is crumbling amid a perceived mis-handling by leaders of the coronavirus pandemic and a widespread feeling among ordinary citizens that they are being misled, a global survey has found.

The Edelman Trust Barometer, which for two decades has polled thousands of people on their trust in core institutions, found 57% of people believe government leaders, business chiefs and journalists are spreading falsehoods or exaggerations.

Breaking out responses according to a person's media habits and voting patterns, the survey found a greater hesitancy on vaccines among those who rely mostly on social media, and underlined the polarization of politics in the United States.

"The violent storming of the U.S. Capitol last week and the fact that only one-third of people are willing to get a COVID vaccine crystalize the dangers of misinformation," said Richard Edelman, whose Edelman communications group produces the survey.

The figure cited by Edelman referred to the fact that an average of only 33% of respondents in 27 countries covered by the survey said they would take the vaccine as soon as possible. A further 31% said they would take it within a year.

The survey was conducted between Oct. 19 and Nov. 18 among more than 33,000 respondents, with a supplement carried out in December after the U.S. presidential election.

GOVERNMENTS LESS TRUSTED

Governments, which in a previous survey conducted early in the pandemic saw a bounce in their trust ratings from publics who wanted them to prioritize saving lives over the economy, saw sharp losses in trust levels as the year progressed.

As a whole, confidence in the institution of government fell from an all-time high of 65% last May to 53% by year-end. Losses were particularly acute in South Korea, Britain and China.

Trust in media, which had already been ebbing in the survey since 2019, fell further. Confidence in traditional media outlets dropped 8 points to 53% although they still attracted more trust than social media, which fell five points to 35%.

Strong national majorities across the board considered media was doing a poor job at being objective and non-partisan, with Japan in Asia, Italy in Europe and Argentina in South America all registering particularly high scores of mistrust.

In the United States, levels of trust diverged according to political affiliation: while 63% of Joe Biden voters trusted journalists, that figure fell to 21% for voters of Donald Trump, who has long denigrated mainstream media as "fake news".

Despite the fact that business leaders were suspected by a majority of engaging in falsehoods and exaggerations, they nonetheless came out of the survey with better overall trust levels than either governments or the media.

Nine in 10 respondents said they wanted CEOs to speak out on the pandemic's impact, labour and societal issues and more than two-thirds expect them to step in when the government does not fix problems.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Trust in governments, business chiefs and media is crumbling

Lots of reasons for that, including paid (and 'volunteer') keyboard warriors from the US and others in the global alt right including authoritarian nations like China, Russia, Turkey, North Korea and elsewhere pushing fake news in attempts to further weaken democracies.

But - countries like the US need to get serious about trying to understand why so many of its citizens are living in poverty, why so many can't find work and why so many feel angry and alienated. Until the US takes serious steps to ensure that the range of individual voices are heard, expect the anger to increase. The US canNOT continue to take away voting rights. It's one of the few, perhaps only way for people's voices to be heard.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Is this even surprising?

Democracy is under attack from within, by those who says they're defending it.

Seriously, Pelosy should be charged for interfering with national security when she was pressuring generals to deny nukes codes to the 'sitting' POTUS.

Defending democracy by censoring and propaganda? That's what totalitarian communist states does.

Incitement of insurrection? The protesters (in particular, the peaceful ones) were there in support of a sitting president, oh duh. Pelosi is the one that should be charged with sedition.

Add weak republicans and there you have it, chaos.

I would be surprised if the Democrats doesn't stuff it up sooner rather than later and end up in the political wilderness for years.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Seriously, Pelosy should be charged for interfering with national security when she was pressuring generals to deny nukes codes to the 'sitting' POTUS.

Trump is too dangerous to be left with the nuclear codes. His recent activities show that he is an enemy of democracy.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Politicians tell the people to do the very same thing that they are not doing-is it a wonder that trust is eroding?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Maybe if politicians didn't lie to us with comments like "just a few weeks to flatten the curve" the public wouldn't be so mistrustful.

And when the public try to question their leaders they shouldn't be cancelled with a "misinformation" label.

Let people express their views freely.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Let people express their views freely.

Indeed, this is especially true in authoritarian-ruled countries like China, North Korea, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. They should allow their citizens and residents to speak freely. And should allow their citizens and residents access to the full range of Internet sites.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

And should allow their citizens and residents access to the full range of Internet sites.

Many would like access to Donald Trump's Twitter feed.

Oops, that got blocked.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

When governments lie, the truth becomes a conspiracy theory.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The decrease in trust in various institutions related to our democracy was the goal of Putin and Trump's massive influence operation - and operation that continues to this day...

It's unfortunate that a small group of Americans can be so easily manipulated by a foreign power - and its Puppet in the White House...

Thank goodness the Puppet has been turned out in humiliation...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I really dont understand the Putin fetish on the left. Russia is not the adversary the US needs to be wary of. It is, of course, China that is the world's number one problem now. Russia is irrelevant by comparison. Perhaps because Chinese money and influence pervades so many areas of American life?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I really dont understand the Putin fetish on the left

I do.

I believe 'western' intelligence sources that have long said the Kremlin's various troll armies are pouring fuel on long burning fires in a number of democracies in attempts to further weaken them. So are China, Turkey and other authoritarian states. And I do not support any nation, including the US doing anything similar. If Putin's keyboard warriors are interfering in your country's politics trying to weaken it would that be OK?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I really dont understand the Putin fetish on the left. Russia is not the adversary the US needs to be wary of. It is, of course, China that is the world's number one problem now. Russia is irrelevant by comparison. Perhaps because Chinese money and influence pervades so many areas of American life?

The far-right in America is now "full in" with Putin-ism and worshipping of all things Russian...

Even as Russia invades and occupies its neighbors, conducts unsafe intercepts of our aircraft, puts bounties on our troops in Afghanistan, engaged in a massive cyber attack on our infrastructure, and continues with its "sweeping and systemic" anti-US influence and propaganda effort on social media...they offer excuses and praise...

Putin cheered when these far-right insurrectionists stormed our Capitol...doing his work...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Could it be due to the fact that a narcissistic sociopath who lies like most of us breathe has gas lighted the public for 5 years?

Or the fact that his merry band of enablers in and out of government helped reinforce and repeat his lies?

Or that Putin is using disinformation as a tool of cyber war to deflect from the obvious fact that he’s a crime boss in a kleptocracy?

There will be trust in institutions when the government tells the truth and foreign adversaries are held to account for attacking our democracy.

In other words, starting 1/20 @ 12:01 PM. It will be a multi year project.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Nine in 10 respondents said they wanted CEOs to speak out on the pandemic's impact, labour and societal issues and more than two-thirds expect them to step in when the government does not fix problems.

Like Bill Gates if he was still CEO?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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