Bill D’Agostino, Senior Researcher at the Media Research Center, gave an interview to Hungary’s Radio Kossuth where, among other things, he said that the US government and the major news outlets are not informing the public properly, which makes it easy for rumors and conspiracy theories to take flight in the absence of adequate information. Not least because of this, people are also becoming distrustful of the news media and the government.
The researcher states that something has unequivocally gone wrong with the press in the United States and with press freedom. In light of such opinions, it is baffling that the Biden administration is more regularly concerned with freedom of the press in Hungary than with the one in the U.S., which is why it is launching its USAID project, despite the fact that media pluralism in Hungary is thriving.
The researcher says that in many cases the US administration is silent and reluctant to provide information to citizens. Even when it does, it gives only what it intends to give, but does not answer further questions, Bill D’Agostino pointed out, adding that as a result, the American people do not have a full picture of what is happening in their country. He also sharply criticized the Biden administration, saying that it seems to him that they are more interested in keeping citizens in the dark than in informing them.
D’Agostino also highlighted the danger that
the less tangible information that reaches the public, the more speculation and conjecture will be the result.
Indeed, people will start to fill in the gaps in their brains if they do not have a comprehensive picture of what is happening. However, the researcher says that secrecy has become a big part of the political culture of the US administration, while many people want to see change.
What are the consequences of such secrecy? A loss of trust and an increase in skepticism, of course, points out D’Agostino, adding that often governments do not even seem to bother to explain their position, which suggests that they think they do not need to explain it to citizens. As he said, it is no coincidence that polls show that the majority of Americans, regardless of party affiliation, do not trust the government.
Indeed, Pew Research Center found in a poll last June that Americans remain deeply distrustful of and dissatisfied with their government, with only 20% saying they trust the government to do the right thing almost always or most of the time. They also pointed out that public trust towards the federal government has been low for nearly two decades, so the negative phenomenon is not entirely new. At the same time, 65% of adults – including nearly the same shares in both the Democratic and the Republican Parties – say that all or most people who seek office at the local, state, or federal level do so to serve their own personal interests, not their communities.’
In the interview with Radio Kossuth, D’Agostino also pointed out that people distrust not only the government, but also the news media outlets. According to him,
researches show that in many cases, people disagree with the narrative being pushed and are aware that the media are trying to impose their own created version of the events on them.
It is for this very reason that they seek information elsewhere, but this information is often unsubstantiated and false.
Regarding public trust towards the media, a Gallup poll taken last October, found that only 7% percent of Americans say they have “a great deal” of trust and confidence in the media, while 27% have “a fair amount.” At the same time however, 28% of American adults say they do not have very much confidence, and 38% say they have no confidence at all in newspapers, TV, or radio. Meanwhile, research done last year from Pew Research Center showed that American adults under 30 have become almost as likely to trust information from social media sites as they are to trust information from national news outlets which depicts a worrying picture since there can be many fake news on social media.
According to Bill D’Agostino, there are many people in the United States who feel that the media is not being honest with them, and rising mistrust has been caused by the very behavior of the media itself. However, major press outlets still refuse to perform due introspection and refuse to reflect on accusations that their attitudes towards information have caused the problem, concluded the researcher.
Featured photo via Facebook/Joe Biden