- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2021

Anxiety about politics, misleading media coverage and continued partisan discord is not limited to the United States. It’s worldwide, according to a wide-ranging survey of 34,000 adults conducted in 28 countries by Edelman, a global communications firm that has created a gauge of public trust. It is not very promising.

“The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that people don’t know where or who to turn to for reliable information. A majority of respondents believe that government leaders (57%), business leaders (56%), and journalists (59%) are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false. The global infodemic has driven trust in all news sources to record lows with social media (35%) and owned media (41%) the least trusted; traditional media (53%) saw the largest drop in trust at eight percentage points,” the organization said.

“Infodemic,” by the way, is a word the World Health Organization invented to define the rush of erroneous news and rumors that circled the world after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last year.

The new Edelman report also cited the “stunning” gap in opinion among U.S. voters when it comes to the press. It found that 57% of “Biden voters” said they trusted the news media, compare to 18% of “Trump voters.” There’s more than just partisan divides at work, though.

“This is the era of information bankruptcy,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman.

“We’ve been lied to by those in charge, and media sources are seen as politicized and biased. The result is a lack of quality information and increased divisiveness. 57% of Americans find the political and ideological polarization so extreme that they believe the U.S. is in the midst of a cold civil war,” he said.

Meanwhile, “business” is now the most trusted institution of all, according to the research: 61% of the global population say they trust “business” — compared to 53% who trust “government.” The analysis urged business to up their standards.

“This year’s report reveals that the biggest opportunity to earn business trust is guarding information quality. 53% of respondents believe corporations need to fill the information void when the news media is absent. Communications from ‘my employer’ is the most trusted source of information (61%), beating out national government (58%), traditional media (57%), and social media (39%),” the analysis said.

The research was based on a survey of 33,000 adults in 28 countries conducted Oct. 19 to Nov. 18, with an error margin of 1.3 percentage points, plus an extra U.S. poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 14 to 18, with an error margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. The entire report was released Thursday.


Along with spots for name and phone number, the public contact page at the White House website now offers an alternative list of pronouns in a drop-down list.

They include she/her, he/him, they/them — plus “other” and “prefer not to share.” The press has taken note.

CNN cited the advent of “personal pronouns” while National Public Radio praised “inclusivity and accessibility” of the new feature.

“Pronouns matter, and adding inclusive pronouns to a contact form is more than just a demonstration of allyship. Research has shown that recognition and respect of our pronouns can make all the difference for our health and wellbeing,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, said in a statement.


“We must ask if the plans from the Biden administration are helping the American people. Are we helping businesses reopen and getting Americans back to work? Are we helping students get back in the classroom? Are we helping individuals, especially our most at-risk population, gain access to a vaccine?” asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during a press conference Thursday.

“I was disappointed to see that within hours after assuming office, the new administration was more interested in helping illegal immigrants than in helping our own citizens. More interested in virtue signals to climate activists than supporting union workers building the Keystone pipeline. And more interested in appeasing the World Health Organization than getting to the bottom of how China released this virus to the world in the first place,” the California Republican said.

“Americans need our help at home and that’s where our focus must remain,” he added.


CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota was anxious to determine the “communications strategy” now emerging at the White House, particularly any strategy toward “right-wing” media companies who “continue to engage in lies” about assorted topics.

“What is your communication strategy? Will you deny those networks any interviews?” Ms. Camerota asked Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director.

“Obviously, if media companies are willfully lying or are not carrying forth straightforward honest information from the president when we make him available, or from administration officials when we make them available, then, of course, that’s something that we are going to think about and we’re going to factor in,” Ms. Bedingfield replied.


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• 59% of U.S. adults “strongly” or “somewhat” disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing; 66% of Republicans, 59% of independents and 52% of Democrats agree.

• 13% overall “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of the job Congress is doing; 10% of Republicans, 8% of independents and 23% of Democrats agree.

• 18% overall neither approve nor disapprove of Congress; 17% of Republicans, 18% of independents and 17% of Democrats agree.

• 10% overall are not sure; 7% of Republicans, 15% of independents and 7% of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 10-12.

• Helpful information to jharper@washingtontimes.com

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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