Pew: Fake News Tops Terrorism, Violent Crime, Climate Change as ‘Very Big Problem in Country Today’

By Craig Bannister | June 5, 2019 | 1:32pm EDT

“Made-up news/info” is considered a major problem by more adults in the U.S. than concerns like terrorism, violent crime, and climate change, results of a nationwide Pew Research Center study released Wednesday show.

Half (50%) of U.S. adults polled called fake news and information “a very big problem in the country today,” compared to only 34% who cited terrorism:

  • Made-up News/Info: 50%
  • Violent Crime: 49%,
  • Climate Change: 46%
  • Racism: 40%
  • Illegal Immigration: 38%
  • Terrorism: 34%
  • Sexism: 26%

About two-thirds of adults said that fake news and information has “a big impact” on Americans’ confidence in government (68%) and creates “a great deal of confusion” about the basic facts of current events and issues.

The results are consistent with an April 2018 Monmouth Poll, in which 77% said traditional news sources like newspapers and television report fake news. In their new book, “Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump,” Brent Bozell and Tim Graham write that the Monmouth findings show that President Donald Trump is justified in waging his campaign against fake news:

“Only 25 percent were prepared to give the media a mulligan abut incorrect facts; a whopping 65 percent defined it [fake news] as the way news outlets choose stories, clearly indicting the media as political activists. They choose to exploit a few carefully chosen facts to undermine Trump and the Republicans, and when Republicans object, they are accused of being hostile to ‘the truth.’

“President Trump’s attacks on the ‘fake news media’ have taken root because they’re true, and demonstrably so. It is not democracy that dies in darkness, it is the credibility of the institutions now attempting to undermine it.”

In order to avoid being duped by fake news, Americans tell Pew that they’ve taken matters into their own hands by fact-checking claims, abandoning untrustworthy news sources, and reducing their intake of news.

Americans’ efforts to combat fake news:

  • 78% have conducted their own fact-checking of news stories,
  • 63% have stopped getting news from a particular outlet,
  • 52% have changed the way they use social media,
  • 43% have lessened their overall news intake.

The Pew Research Center survey of 6,127 U.S. adults was conducted between Feb. 19 and March 4, 2019, on the Center’s American Trends Panel.


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