By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Which institutions do you have confidence in?

A new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll asked that question of a thousand adults, and the results tell us plenty about the way we view the world around us these days, none of it especially reassuring.

Only two of the 18 institutions cited by the pollsters drew a majority who said they had a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in them.

Nearly 60-percent of respondents expressed that level of confidence in small business, and 73-percent had high confidence in the military. These two are always at or near the top of these kinds of polls, and nothing has happened to change that.

Notice a common denominator here – both small business and the military are institutions seen as accountable and a part of the community.

The local businesses that sponsor local athletes, and the military family next door that puts their lives on the line, are admired and respected where I live, and I bet where you live too.

Now, the bad news.

Congress is a perennial loser in polls like this, and only 16-percent say they have strong confidence in it, while 15-percent say they have no confidence at all. But for the first time in my memory, Congress isn’t the least-respected institution around.

That dubious distinction is shared by the national news media and the big social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter, with the same low ratings as Congress but a whopping 28-percent who say they have zero confidence in either medium. The entertainment industry fares almost as poorly, with 23-percent expressing no confidence.

The moral of the story: you can win someone’s attention, but unless you earn their trust you won’t win their confidence.


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