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June 16, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:26am

Tucker Carlson tops Reuters Institute list of most prominent American journalists

By Bron Maher

Tucker Carlson is the most famous journalist in the US according to a survey which asked Americans to name five journalists they pay attention to.

Carlson was one of five Fox personalities to appear on the list of the ten most-mentioned names.

He beat out Rachel Maddow of MSNBC to the top spot, who in turn pipped former Trump loyalist Sean Hannity of Fox for second.

For the Reuters Digital News Report 2022  Yougov surveyed 2,036 Americans in late January and early February 2022.

Respondents were asked to name up to five journalists they pay attention to – though only a minority named any.

“Across countries, less than half of our sample named a single journalist,” the institute said, “though this may be at least partly due to low response rates in general for these types of open questions.”

Notably, every journalist in the US top ten was a television personality. In the UK, where the same survey was carried out, four of the most-mentioned names worked primarily in print or online. (UK broadcast impartiality rules mean partisan journalism is generally confined to written media.)

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The ten most famous journalists in America

Asked to name up to five journalists they pay attention to, Americans mentioned these ten the most:

  1. Tucker Carlson (Fox)
  2. Rachel Maddow (MSNBC)
  3. Sean Hannity (Fox)
  4. Lester Holt (NBC)
  5. Anderson Cooper (CNN)
  6. David Muir (ABC)
  7. Jesse Watters (Fox)
  8. Don Lemon (CNN)
  9. Laura Ingraham (Fox)
  10. Bret Baier (Fox)

The researchers said that only 9% of US journalists mentioned by respondents worked for a print outlet, compared with 30% in the UK. Among those American print journalists getting some mention were Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and New York Times writers Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd and Ezra Klein.

Some 17% of journalists mentioned by Americans wrote for other types of outlets, in particular online-only brands.

Carlson’s fame is at least equal to his infamy, and the framing of the question – “who do you pay the most attention to” – may suggest not all respondents named him because they enjoy his work.

Long a well-known personality, Carlson has in recent times become one of the most prominent figures in American political life.

In recent months, Carlson has been accused of actively stoking white Americans’ resentment in a ratings ploy, something his employer has denied. Activist ad consultancy Check My Ads is currently campaigning to get ads off Fox, in part due to Carlson’s alleged fanning of 2020 election conspiracies.

Despite the results however, the rest of the Reuters report indicated individual journalists aren’t Americans’ focus: 37% of respondents said they follow news brands, rather than news personalities.

Out of the six markets surveyed on the question - the UK, US, Brazil, Germany, France and Finland - the US had the third highest proportion of respondents following specific journalists. It lagged far behind Brazil, the frontrunner in that regard, where 46% of those surveyed said they followed particular people.

Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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