The poll was commissioned by the Media Research Center (MRC), which is the parent company of CNSNews.com.
“This poll confirms that the American people no longer trust Brian Williams to report the news,” said MRC president Brent Bozell. “This is no longer about Brian Williams’ reputation. This is about NBC News having any chance of being a credible source of news.”
Pollsters asked 1,007 likely voters: “Should Brian Williams still resign given the number of lies he told on national television and the number of times he repeated them, even when he apologized?”
A hefty majority – 71.6 percent – answered “Yes,” with only 15.7 percent answering “No,” and 12.7 percent saying they didn’t know or refusing to answer.
Broken down by party affiliation, a solid majority from both political parties said they believed Williams should step down, with 80.3 percent of Republicans, 66.7 percent of Democrats, and 68.6 percent of Independents responding to the question in the affirmative.
Republicans were most likely to believe Williams should resign for not telling the truth: 82.1 percent of Republican men held that view, followed by 68.1 percent of Independent men and 63.4 percent of Democratic men.
A majority of women, including 78.4 percent of Republicans, 69.3 percent of Democrats, and 69.1 percent of Independents also believe that Williams should tender his resignation.
A slightly lower percentage – 66.1 percent – said NBC should have fired Williams.
“NBC suspended ‘Nightly News’ anchor Brian Williams for six months after he was caught in numerous lies, including fabricating a story about being shot down in a helicopter over Iraq and seeing a dead body float by his hotel in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. In your opinion, should he have been fired?” pollsters asked.
Three quarters of all Republicans, both men and women (76.6 percent), responded that Williams should have been fired by the network, compared to 59 percent of Democratic men who agreed that he should have lost his job after his fabrications.
“[If] Brian Williams is allowed to return as NBC’s anchor, reporting the nightly news after being caught in numerous lies, are you more or less likely to trust NBC News?” respondents were asked.
A total of 61.6 percent of those polled (66.9% of Republicans, 62.7% of Independents, and 56.4% of Democrats) said they were “less likely” to trust NBC News if Williams returns to the anchor desk. That total includes 45.5 percent who said they were “much less likely” to trust the network newscast if Williams is reinstated. Only 16.1 percent said they were “somewhat less likely” to trust NBC News if he returns to the anchor desk.
The poll’s results were in contrast to an online poll of 900 people out of a sample of 1,004 who watched network news at least once during the preceding 30 days, which was conducted last Friday by Magid Associates.
Fifty-eight percent of daily viewers of network news said that Williams, who is currently on a six-month suspension, could eventually earn back his credibility. That percentage dropped to 48 percent for those who watched network news less frequently.
The Magid poll also found that “70% of viewers think [Lester] Holt will be as good or better than Williams while filling in. Just 6% think he will be worse.”
The McLaughlin poll included all likely voters in 2016, while the Magid poll was limited to viewers of network news between the ages of 18 and 65.
“But the biggest difference [between the two polls] is that they ask a very different set of questions,” John McLaughlin, CEO of McLaughlin & Associates, told CNSNews.com when asked to explain the apparent discrepancy.
“Their questions are not anywhere as specific as ours are about what happened. They never mention what [Williams] did – that he lied,” he said. “When we spell out exactly what he did, two-thirds said he should be fired and 7 out of 10 said he should resign.
“The real damage to NBC News is the fact that their anchor was caught in numerous lies, with 6 out of 10 Americans saying they’re less likely to trust them in the future. News programs live or die by their credibility and their veracity is supposed to be beyond reproach, so I doubt he’s ever coming back in the same capacity,” McLaughlin added.
“When you tell people exactly what he did, it’s pretty clear that a majority of Americans do not trust him enough to ever bring him back.”