WASHINGTON, DC – In a sharply divided country, here's something many Americans agree on: It's hard to know what's a true and honest fact.
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and USAFacts finds that regardless of political belief, many Americans say they have a hard time figuring out if information is true. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they often come across one-sided information and about 6 in 10 say they regularly see conflicting reports about the same set of facts from different sources.
“It is difficult to get facts. You have to read between the lines. You have to have a lot of common sense,” said Leah Williams, 29, of Modesto, California. A Republican, Williams says she relies on like-minded friends and family to help sort through conflicting information. “There are wolves in sheep’s clothing everywhere."
The poll found that 47% of Americans believe it’s difficult to know if the information they encounter is true, compared with 31% who find it easy to do so. When deciding whether something is factual, there is widespread consensus on the importance of transparency in how the information was gathered and if it is based on data. Democrats and Republicans alike frequently find the process challenging.
But as a president with a history of making false statements and repeating debunked conspiracy theories faces public hearings this week in only the fourth impeachment inquiry in the nation’s history, the poll finds that differing political beliefs led Americans down different paths as they try to determine what's a unquestionable fact.
Democrats are more likely to say they rely on scientists and academics, while Republicans are more likely to trust what they hear from President Donald Trump.
“When I hear him on Fox News — that’s where I get all my information,” said Al Corra, a 48-year-old Republican from Midland, Texas. Trump, he said, is the easiest way to cut through an otherwise confusing information environment.
Republicans are more likely than Democrats to put a great deal of trust in the president’s statements, 40% to 5%. Overall, a majority of Americans (61%) have little to no trust in information about the government when it comes from Trump,