Majority of Respondents Don't Trust Washington

Public Radio Tulsa – A new Pew Research Center survey finds that nearly 80 percent of respondents say they can't trust Washington, and have little faith that the federal bureaucracy can solve the nation's ills. Director Andrew Kohut tells Steve Inskeep that only 22 percent said they can trust the federal government "almost always or most of the time."

Learn More

Planned stories in this NPR series:

Trust and the Ballot Process
Weekend Edition, Sunday April 18
California's initiative process grew out of a distrust of government, allowing voters to take matters into their own hands. Over time, voters have used that power to restrict government, such as how long officials can serve or how much of the budget they can control. And now it seems the less government does, the more voter distrust grows. NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.

Pew Poll
Morning Edition, Monday, April 19
Andrew Kohut discusses the new Pew Poll on trust in government. Distrust is now at levels comparable to 1980 and 1994, two years that saw sweeping and long-lasting political change. Distrust of Congress is at historically low levels.

Distrust: As American as Apple Pie?
Morning Edition, Monday April 19
The United States government was formed in revolution against an all-powerful monarch. Does that mean distrust of government is embedded in the American identity? Is skepticism of official institutions an essential part of what it means to be an American? NPR's Ari Shapiro explores the competing theories among historians and political scientists.

Trust in Obama
All Things Considered, Monday, April 19
Barack Obama was elected on a wave of trust, and compared to Congress, government in general and most particular agencies, Americans still think President Obama is okay. But Mr. Obama has seen his own numbers slip, and his ambitious agenda has been slowed by distrust of government. NPR's Mara Liasson looks at what distrust has cost President Obama and how he hopes to change it.

The Broken Branch Indeed
Morning Edition, Tuesday, April 20
Distrust in government is high, but not historic with one exception: Congress. Americans have no faith and nothing good to say about Congress. NPR's Andrea Seabrook looks at the findings from the Pew Research Center poll and what it means for the House and Senate as governing bodies.

What is Trust?
All Things Considered, Wednesday, April 21
NPR's Alix Spiegel takes a look at the building blocks of trust in our psyches. We know distrust is harmful to an individual's well being. What does distrust mean to our national well being and to our belief that we should comply with the law and the directives of government?

Distrust and Conservatism
Morning Edition, Thursday, April 22
For those who oppose big government and government spending on philosophical grounds, rising distrust has lifted their cause. NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

The Media's Role in the Trust in Government
All Things Considered, Thursday, April 22
NPR's David Folkenflik travels to Atlanta -- a microcosm of the new media landscape -- to learn how Americans get their news about government and how that affects our trust in it. One troubling finding: media old and new are drawn to "bad news," and humans are much more able to retain and believe it.

Angry Retirees
Weekend Edition, Saturday, April 24
The Social Security checks arrive every month. Medicare pays the bills, and prescription drug coverage was added not so long ago. Yet seniors have nothing but contempt for the federal government. NPR's Scott Horsley talks to some seniors about their faded optimism and faith in government.

The Immigrant View
All Things Considered, Saturday, April 24
The Pew Research Center survey on trust in government shows that recent immigrants trust government more than other Americans. NPR's Mandalit del Barco looks at what shapes their attitudes.

Living Without Distrust
Morning Edition, Monday April 26
The Monday health segment from Alix Spiegel features a look at the biology of trust, beginning with the story of a child who has Williams Syndrome and therefore has no distrust of anyone at all.

African Americans
All Things Considered, Monday, April 26
As Cheryl Corley reports, African Americans have never trusted government in the same way whites have, though the ups and downs have tracked those of whites.

Try Russia
All Things Considered, Monday, April 26
You think distrust is high here in the States, look just about anywhere else in the world and you'll find it's worse. NPR Moscow correspondent David Greene looks at how Russians feel about their government and whether they think trust matters.

Young People and Trust in Government
Morning Edition, Wednesday, April 28
They have it! Some one had to! Tovia Smith reports on the trust of young people in their government. Is it the innocence of youth or Obama-love? And can it last?

Inspecting for Trust
All Things Considered, Wednesday, April 28
Inspectors general are accountable to the taxpayers. They are supposed to detect and prevent waste, fraud and abuse, and thereby hopefully build back just a little trust in government. The institution is now more than 20 years old. NPR's Brian Naylor looks at their role and impact.