Recent Gallup polling shows only 36% of Americans trust “mass media,” its lowest since 2016. But Facebook’s Tom Gara highlighted a whopping 10-point drop from 54% in 2003 to 44% in 2004, adding that such trust hasn’t recovered.
Stelter speculated what or who was responsible for the shift in the country’s view of journalists, which had remained above water in prior years.
“Rathergate? War? Or both,” Stelter tweeted on Thursday.
Rather was forced out of the anchor chair at CBS News in 2005 after he went on air with forged documents in a 2004 report questioning President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.
However, despite his disgraceful exit, the outspokenly left-wing Rather has been embraced in recent years by Stelter and several CNN colleagues, particularly for being an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.
From 2018 through 2020, Rather made at least seven appearances on “Reliable Sources,” according to Grabien search results.
During those appearances, Stelter would have Rather weigh in on the latest headlines during the Trump presidency and seek his advice as to how the media should cover the White House.
Critics on social media slammed Stelter for having Rather as a repeat guest despite his tarnished reputation.
“Brian Stelter wonders if his routine guest on Reliable Sources caused a big drop in media trust in 2003-2004,” Twitchy editor Greg Pollowitz reacted.
While he has yet to return to “Reliable Sources” in 2021, Rather has been invited on-air several times this year by CNN anchor Don Lemon, as well as fellow host Anderson Cooper. Chris Cuomo also had the disgraced anchor on his show in 2020.
Stelter later seemed to walk back his certainty about what led to the decline in trust of the media by examining the political breakdown, which showed 68% of Democrats, 11% of Republicans and 31% of independents currently trusting the media.
“I would read a whole book about this slide,” Stelter wrote.
He also expressed frustration with Gallup’s framing of the question since “most people trust some form of media,” writing, “when pollsters ask about ‘THE MEDIA’ as a whole, the results are abysmal.”