It was unclear how, or under what circumstances, the purported survey data was compiled to create the bar chart.
On April 17, 2023, social media posts claimed Fox News ran an advertisement in The New York Times that featured a bar chart and survey data purportedly showing Fox News as the TV network "most trusted for news." The posts surfaced a day before Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems reached a settlement in a defamation case that focused on Fox's false portrayal of the voting machine company's systems in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
The first post we found depicting the alleged ad was from NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Folkenflik wrote on Twitter, "Fox News full page ad in NYT this AM on public trust as it seeks to settle ten-figure defamation suit on eve of jury trial." Attached was a photo of the purported ad showing a bar chart ranking Fox News as the "most trusted" TV network for news — surpassing ABC News, CNN, CBS, NBC, or MSNBC, according to the chart.
Fox News full page ad in NYT this AM on public trust as it seeks to settle ten-figure defamation suit on eve of jury trial pic.twitter.com/MyhbgbSbrg
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) April 17, 2023
We also found the picture of the ad from Folkenflik's tweet on other platforms, such as Reddit and Facebook. The full tweet was displayed on TikTok.
The advertisement was real. It appeared in the "A5" section of the print edition of The New York Times on April 17, 2023, according to The New York Time's PressReader. Also, the source of the claim (Folkenflik) is a reputable journalist, and other credible publications like The Washington Post have written about the ad, confirming its authenticity. It was unclear where or how many times the ad was published in venues other than The New York Times. The Washington Post said Fox News placed the ad in that paper, as well.
YouGov, a British research-analytics company, was cited in the ad as the source for the purported poll data about people's trust in TV networks. The survey data did not appear to be public (it was not listed on YouGov's website) at the time of the publication.
We reached out to that organization, as well as Fox News, for information about the survey. Among our questions were: who was asked to participate in the poll; when did it take place; what was its sample size, and who funded it. We will update this fact check if we receive responses.
At first glance, the survey appeared to claim that 41% of respondents said Fox News was their most trusted TV network for news. ABC News ranked second with 24% of votes, followed by CNN and CBS tied at 22%, NBC at 21%, and MSNBC at 18%.
Altogether, the numbers in the advertisement added up to 148%, not 100%. At the bottom of the ad, a disclaimer read that participants were supposedly given a list of TV networks and asked to select the ones that they use to keep up with the news. They could choose more than one. From those answers, per the disclaimer in the ad, the survey asked respondents to mark which outlets (again, plural) they trust the most.
As such, the survey did not compile data showing 41% of respondents picked Fox News over the other media outlets. Rather, according to the chart, 41% of respondents included Fox News as an outlet they trust, potentially in addition to others.
A previous poll by Economist/YouGov did not have the same results. That study, which was conducted in March 2022, surveyed 1,500 adults, and 30% of respondents said Fox News was "very trustworthy" or "trustworthy." That was a less than the amount of respondents who said CNN, CBS, NBC, and ABC were "very trustworthy" or "trustworthy" (36%, 38%, 37%, and 38%, respectively). MSNBC was the only broadcast network with less than Fox News' 30% (28%).
In January 2020, Pew Research determined that Fox News was "about equally trusted and distrusted" across swaths of Americans. In a study of how Americans chose their news sources based on political polarization, 43% of U.S. adults said they trust the media company for political news, while 40% said they distrust it.