Richard Edelman says the U.S. is living in an “era of information bankruptcy” as leaders lie to the public, which views media outlets as politicized and biased.
“The result is a lack of quality information and increased divisiveness,” he said in releasing the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer.
Edelman believes the Jan. 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol and the fact that only a third of Americans plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine highlights the dangers of misinformation. Fifty percent of Americans believe the country is in the grip of a “cold civil war,” according to the Barometer.
Business (61 percent) replaced government (53 percent) as the most trusted institution since the mid-May update of the Barometer.
The record-breaking time to develop the COVID-19 vaccine and ability to shift to a work-from-home environment sparked the upswing in business trust.
“Guarding information quality” at 5.8 percent ranks as the top action that can “increase likelihood” of trust. That’s followed by embracing sustainable practices (5.7 percent), robust COVID-19 health and safety response (4.8 percent), driving economic prosperity (4.7 percent) and long-term thinking over short-term profits (4.6 percent).
The Barometer gauged the trust levels of Biden and Trump supporters following the November election.
It found a 19 percent overall trust gap between Biden voters (53 percent) and Trump backers (34 percent).
Both factions recorded the same level of trust in business (55 percent), but split on trust in government (45 percent for Biden, 30 percent for Trump).
There was a yawning gap (39 percent) in trust in the media. Fifty-seven percent of Biden voters trust the media, compared to 18 percent for Trump people, which was a 15 percent plunge from the 2020 Barometer update.