Who Does America Trust – Not Readers Digest’s List

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

While visiting my doctor this past month for my annual physical – unfortunately for you dissenters, I am remarkably fit for an overweight sixty-nine year old conservative – I stumbled across the June 2013 Reader’s Digest edition containing the Reader’s Digest Trust Poll – an article describing the 100 people in America that “we” trust the most:

“Trust: It’s earned with a person’s integrity and character, exceptional talent and drive, internal moral compass, message, honesty, and leadership. In our annual Reader’s Digest Trust Poll, we asked you to determine the top 100 people in America today who have gained your confidence.”

The results are staggering.  Of the top twenty, twelve are movie and television personalities, three are Nobel Prize winners, two are philanthropists, and three are other citizens.  The staggering thing is that we allegedly put our trust in a group of people who have spent their lives pretending to be somebody else for public consumption – nine of them are actors or directors, one is a newsreader and two are TV doctors.  The three Nobel Prize winners are all accomplished professionals in their respective fields but I would guess than in a group of 100 people on the street, 99 would have to admit that they have never heard of Lefkowitz, Kobilka and Shapely.  The two philanthropists are well known – Bill and Melinda Gates.  Of the three remaining citizens most would have to admit that they know Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama but Noam Chomsky would be in the same crowd as the three Nobel prize winners.  How could this be?

And it gets worse.  The list continues on with more actors and begins to add professional athletes.  Even former President Jimmy Carter is included – but not George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush.  Virtually every newsreader from the major networks is included – but only Sheperd Smith from Fox is included at No. 100.  With the exception of Condoleeza Rice there is not a single conservative identified.  There are no radio talks hosts, no conservative columnists and no conservative economists such as Thomas Sowell, George Schultz or Walter Williams.   There are only two religious leaders included – Rev. Billy Graham and Rabbi Arthur Schneier – no Catholic cardinals, no Episcopalian bishops, no televangelists, not even a Muslim imam.  Gratefully neither Rev. Al Sharpton nor Rev. Jesse Jackson – two notorious race baiters – are included.

If the results of this “poll” were true you would have to wonder at the future of our country.  The vast majority of those listed represent style over substance – actors, comedians, celebrities –it’s pretty pitiful. But the absence of the very people excluded leaves you hoping that this isn’t real; that this an engineered distortion of what Americans really thinks – some private political agenda, some effort to “dumb down” America.  And you would be right.

This isn’t a poll of who America trusts – this is a ranking of who Readers Digest thinks we ought to trust.  Here it is straight from the horse’s mouth – or at least some end of the horse:

“To further understand how our trust instinct shapes our culture, Reader’s Digest compiled a list of over 200 American opinion shapers and headline makers from 15 highly influential professions and presented it to U.S. adults. The list included people in which we’d like to place our faith (like doctors and teachers) and those who dominate popular culture whether we like it or not (like the stars of reality-TV shows). We polled a nationally representative sample of 1,009 American adults, asking them to rank each person on a scale of 1 (not at all trustworthy) to 5 (extremely trustworthy) based on how highly they rated the person’s

    • Integrity and character

    • Internal moral compass

    • Message

    • Honesty

    • Leadership”

In a universe of 350 million people in America, Readers Digest chose 200 hundred people that they thought we ought to trust and ignored literally hundreds of others that we actually do trust.  Those “polled” weren’t asked who they trust but rather to rank those who Readers Digest trust.

But Readers Digest didn’t headline this story as the ranking of those it trusts; instead they headlined it as who Americans trust.  It is a clumsy attempt to influence thinking rather than reflect it.  It may, however, reflect the reason that the Readers Digest is in bankruptcy proceedings for the second time in less than four years.

It may also be a lesson for other print media dominated by liberals to stop trying to shape the news and simply report it.