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Brand Keys Media Trust Tracking: August 2021 Absence of “Trump-Tension”Contributes To Lower TV News

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

The 9th wave of the Media Trust Tracking survey conducted for MediaPost was fielded in August by Brand Keys, Inc. (www.brandkeys.com), the New York-based brand loyalty and emotional engagement research consultancy.

The survey identifies the contribution the single value of “trust” makes to program engagement and positive viewership behavior toward TV news brands.

Using the independently-validated Brand Keys emotional engagement analysis, 3,975 wave-9 respondents (balanced for gender and political affiliation and drawn from the nine U.S. Census Regions) rated the TV news brands they watch regularly, 3+ times a week.

While recent TV news has covered the COVID pandemic, the Delta variant, ongoing Democrat vs. Republican political tug-of-wars, the January 6th Insurrection Select Committee, the Infrastructure negotiations, the Olympics, and flights into space, viewer interest in TV news has literally slowed. “We believe as people returned to a semblance of pre-COVID normalcy, viewers quite literally ‘tuned out’ the news,” noted Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president.

Brand Keys also believes the decline in TV new viewership has been abetted by a distinct lack of what they call, “Trump-tension,” an allusion to his near-daily monopolization of media platforms, particularly television news, during the Trump presidency. Because engagement assessments correlate very highly with viewer behavior (0.80+), dips in “trust” have seen concomitant dips in viewership.

In this wave of research, eight of the nine TV news brands examined showed trust levels declined, with one exception – FOX News.

“Trust” relates to a number of factors when it comes to TV news. Foremost among them is a fair presentation of important content, with accuracy, clarity, and timeliness contributing to viewer trust evaluations.

Brand Keys has continued to track Presidential trust levels.

President Biden’s trust-contribution was 57%, a decrease of 4% since the last wave of research conducted in February.


Brand Keys uses an independently-validated research methodology fusing emotional and rational aspects of categories. This identifies category behavioral drivers as well as the values (including “trust” as it is characterized in a particular category) that form the components of each driver, along with their percent-contribution to engagement, and positive behavior, and loyalty toward a brand.

Brand Keys’ research technique, is a combination of psychological inquiry and higher-order statistical analyses, has a test/re-test reliability of 0.93, and produces results generalizable at the 95% confidence level. It has been successfully used in B2B, B2C, and D2C categories – including media and politics – in 35 countries.


By Robert Passikoff

Founder and CEO of Brand Keys. He has received several awards for market research innovation including the prestigious Gold Ogilvy Award and is the author of 3 marketing and branding books including the best-seller, Predicting Market Success. Robert is also a frequent contributor to TheCustomer.

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