Politics & Government

Who do we trust? Anyone in a white coat. Who do we NOT trust? (You can guess.)

Journalist rate low on ethics and honesty in the latest Gallup Poll. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a news conference Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.
Journalist rate low on ethics and honesty in the latest Gallup Poll. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a news conference Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. AP

Congress gets the lowest marks for honesty and ethics of any profession, while nurses get the highest, a new Gallup Poll said Monday.

The poll also found the public’s view of journalists is unusually low.

Gallup asked people to rate 22 professions in its Dec. 7-11 poll. Nurses have led every list except one since the survey began asking about the profession in 1999.

“Healthy majorities of the American public continue to show a willingness to trust the honesty and ethical standards of health care providers,” Gallup said in an analysis. “However, Americans do not, by and large, rate the honesty and ethical standards of American professions highly.”

Only six scored better than 50 percent: nurses, pharmacists, medical doctors, engineers, dentists and police officers.

People weren’t high on journalists. Twenty-three percent said their honesty and ethics were high or very high, while those rating it low comprised 41 percent, 10 points more than the previous 2008-09 high. Thirty percent called journalists’ honesty and ethics average.

There was a partisan divide, as 21 percent of Democrats said journalists’ honesty and ethical standards were low or very low, while 63 percent of Republicans felt that way.

Also slipping: views of the clergy, down to 44 percent, the lowest point since Gallup first asked about the profession in 1977.

Its explanation: “The sexual abuse scandal that engulfed the Roman Catholic Church in 2002 brought the rating down to 52 percent that year. By 2013, after a series of further revelations of abuse, less than half of the public gave the clergy a high or very high rating.”

This month, among those most likely to rate the clergy highly were Protestants, at 59 percent; people over 65, 58 percent; people who attend religious services at least weekly, 57 percent; and Republicans, 56 percent.

Those least likely to give the clergy high marks are nonreligious people, 22 percent; 18- to 29-year-olds, 30 percent; people with household incomes of less than $30,000, 31 percent; people with a high school education or less, 37 percent; and liberals, 37 percent.

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid

Nurses were seen as very highly or highly ethical by 84 percent of people in the Gallup survey. Congress was viewed that way by 8 percent.

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