Fox News’ Standing Among Republicans Has Recovered as Quickly as It Deteriorated

The network’s credibility rating among Republicans is up 10 points from May and in line with what it was in 2020
February 28, 2022 at 12:01 am UTC

Following the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump told his supporters to stop watching Fox News, and instead tune into right-wing media rivals such as Newsmax and the One America News Network (OAN). And for awhile, they listened: Fox News’ ratings dropped, and its credibility among Republicans hit an all-time low back in May, per Morning Consult data.

But the network is already back to business as usual. The share of Republicans who believe that Fox News is credible has returned to pre-Trump levels, according to a recent Morning Consult survey. Elsewhere, CNN’s credibility rating has also improved among U.S. adults, as well as both major political parties, despite several scandals plaguing the network.

Fox News’ Credibility Improves Among Republicans

The share of Americans who said they find the following cable news outlets credible:
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Surveys conducted May 6-9, 2021, and Feb. 9-10, 2022, among a representative sample of roughly 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

What the numbers say 

  • Forty-eight percent of adults consider Fox News to be a credible news outlet, 4 percentage points higher than the share that said the same in a 2021 survey. Fox News’ credibility rating among Republicans increased 10 points to 69 percent in the past year. The share of Republicans who said they trust Fox News “a lot” or “some” also jumped 10 points, from 60 percent to 70 percent.
  • Despite multiple scandals at the network, CNN also saw its credibility rating increase among the general public and Democrats. Fifty-three percent of adults and 78 percent of Democrats view the network as credible, an increase of 3 and 4 points, respectively. Anchor Chris Cuomo was fired late last year amid questions about his involvement in the affairs of his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. And earlier this month, CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned after admitting he had an undisclosed sexual relationship with the network’s Chief Marketing Officer Allison Gollust. Gollust resigned from her post last week after an investigation revealed she violated company policies.

Anderson Cooper Is America’s Favorite Cable News Anchor

Share of U.S. adults who hold a favorable rating of the following cable news anchors:
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Surveys conducted May 6-9, 2021, and Feb. 9-10, 2022, among a representative sample of roughly 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

More on the numbers

  • CNN’s Anderson Cooper remains the most popular primetime cable news anchor among adults overall and Democrats, while Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity of Fox News ranked first and second, respectively, among Republicans. Cooper’s favorability rating among the public and Democrats each increased by 2 points from last year, while Republicans’ favorability ratings for Carlson and Hannity showed no change. 
  • Cuomo’s favorability rating fell 8 points among all adults, and 13 points among Democrats, following his ouster from CNN.

The impact 

After losing the 2020 election, Trump made an effort to establish Newsmax and OAN as credible outlets in the conservative media space. However, Morning Consult’s latest data indicates that Republican viewers haven’t turned their backs on Fox News, and still consider the network to be by far the most credible U.S. cable news outlet.

Questions regarding Fox News’ credibility will again be front and center throughout the network’s coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Fox host Maria Bartiromo, for instance, falsely suggested last week that increased tensions between the two countries could be a “ruse” drummed up by President Joe Biden’s administration to distract from other issues. Uncorroborated comments such as those do not appear to have much of an effect on the network’s credibility among Republicans. Tucker Carlson was also recently criticized for his apparent downplaying of the Russian invasion.

Data also shows that CNN has weathered its recent public relations storms. While Cuomo’s favorability rating fell after his firing, the network itself saw its credibility rating increase, suggesting that viewers separate the news outlet from its personalities. The improvement in credibility for both networks says there may be little that can fundamentally change the entrenched public attitudes toward them.

Representatives for CNN did not respond to a request to comment on this story, while Fox News did not make a representative available to comment.

Survey conducted Feb. 9-10, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Sarah Shevenock previously worked at Morning Consult as a reporter covering the business of entertainment.

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