Americans’ perception of the honesty and ethics of TV reporters, judges, grade-school teachers, military officers and clergy have reached new lows, according to a report from Gallup.com.
But it’s lobbyists, car sales representatives and “members of Congress” who still earn the lowest level of trust among the nation’s population.
The poll pointed out that there are “new lows in public esteem” for the five professions, with military officers down 10 points to 61%, TV reporters down nine points to 14% and judges down five points to 38%.
“While down several points since 2020, the perceived ethics of clergy (36%) and grade-school teachers (64%) are just a point or two below their previous all-time lows,” Gallup said.
Gallup explained the results are from the latest “Honesty and Ethics survey,” which was done Dec. 1-16.
Participants were asked to rate the honesty and ethics of various professions as very high, high, average, low or very low.
“For the 20th straight year, nurses lead Gallup’s annual ranking of professions for having high honesty and ethics, eclipsing medical doctors in second place by 14 points – 81% vs. 67%. Grade-school teachers (64%), pharmacists (63%) and military officers (61%) round out the top five most revered professions in this year’s list, with more than six in 10 Americans viewing each as highly ethical.”
Police officers and day care providers also are at or above 50%, but no other profession is believed by more than 38%, Gallup said.
Less than 10% of Americans think of lobbyists, car salespeople or members of Congress as having high or very high ethics.
“When one factors in those who rate each profession’s ethics as low or very low, members of Congress and lobbyists are clearly the worst rated. More than six in 10 Americans view the ethics of these political actors negatively, whereas roughly four in 10 see car salespeople this way; a plurality view car salespeople as average,” Gallup reported.
Calculating the difference between the numbers who think a profession has very high or high ethics – compared to the numbers giving a profession low or very low ratings – nurses are a plus-78.
Pharmacists are a plus-57, judges plus-22 and bankers plus-7. But lawyers are a minus-11, newspaper reporters a minus-26, TV reporters a minus-34, members of Congress a minus-53 and lobbyists a minus-58.
“Three of the top four — nurses, medical doctors and pharmacists — are medical professions that enjoyed boosted ratings in 2020, likely because of their service to the public during the pandemic,” the report said.
“Teachers’ rating had jumped to an all-time high of 75% in 2020 after varying between 66% and 70% from 2010 to 2017. Their current 64% is thus a new low. But while it’s not significantly lower than some of their previous scores, the latest decline is driven by a notable downturn in positive ratings among Republicans,” the report said. “Amid tension between teachers and parents in some school districts around the country over reopening schools for in-person learning, barely half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (54%) now rate grade-school teachers’ ethics highly, below Republicans’ pre-pandemic 70% average rating for teachers.”
The report continued, “The percentage of Republicans viewing television reporters’ honesty and ethics highly has gradually declined since 2010, hitting 6% this year. By contrast, Democrats’ respect for television reporters was steady near 25% from 2000 to 2013 and then surged to 35% in 2017 – likely reflecting Democrats’ support for the media against verbal attacks by then-President Donald Trump. It has now returned to 24% among Democrats.”
Judges also have slipped seriously, from a very high-high rating of 54% in 1999 to about 40% today.
The report said, “Americans are most skeptical of the ethics of elected officials, particularly at the federal level, as well as the media and people selling products or influence (car salespeople, advertising people and lobbyists).”
Columnist Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner focused on the overall results.
“There’s a not-so-hidden message in Gallup’s latest survey on the honesty and ethics of professions: America hates Washington, D.C. At the bottom of its list of 22 professions sits the media-politics industry that dominates the city,” the column said.
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