Reader’s Digest Announces ’100 Most Trusted People in America’

Reader’s Digest Announces ’100 Most Trusted People in America’

ABC’s “Good Morning America” Co-Anchor Robin Roberts Graces June Cover as the Most Trusted Woman on Television

NEW YORK, May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ Reader’s Digest, one of the most-read brands in the world, today shared its “100 Most Trusted People in America” list, which is the result of a nationwide poll to discover which public figures, and the ideals they represent, have earned Americans’ confidence.

For the cover, ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who Americans see as the most trusted woman on television, sat down with Reader’s Digest editor-in-chief and chief content officer, Liz Vaccariello for an exclusive interview about “trust” and why it is so meaningful to her. She discusses the qualities that define trustworthy individuals, what made her laugh post-surgery, her favorite family jokes, life-or-death decisions, her trust in her own doctors and why laughter really is the best medicine.

Trust is cited on American currency, valued in relationships, and worshipped in everyday faith. Trust matters, which is why Reader’s Digest consulted with The Wagner Group, a national marketing research company, for this first-ever poll to uncover which public figures earned Americans’ confidence.

Reader’s Digest compiled a list of more than 200 American opinion shapers, leaders and headline makers from 15 highly influential professions and presented it to more than 1,000 Americans, a representative sample of adults living in the United States, asking them to rank each name on how trustworthy they thought each individual was. Trustworthiness was determined by integrity and character, exceptional talent, drive to personal excellence, internal moral compass, message, honesty and leadership.

The poll revealed first and foremost that Americans trust people they know more than those who are famous. There were three professions that came out on top as extremely or very trustworthy: 77%* of respondents named their personal doctors, followed by their spiritual advisors (71%), and their children’s current teachers (66%). These three scorers are not included in the list, which focuses on American public figures.

“The poll results were fascinating, fun and shocking. We trust because it feels good, but putting our faith in the wrong place often carries a high price,” said Vaccariello. “While the list showed what Americans think about those they see regularly in the news, on television and in movies, our poll also revealed that we put our trust in do-gooders, that tweets do not always equal trust, and that we trust people we know more than anyone famous.”

Highlights from the “The Most Trusted People in America” poll include:

  • Legendary movie stars are trusted. Beloved actor Tom Hanks earned the highest score, making him America’s most trusted man (65%). Sandra Bullock ‘s graceful handling of her cheating spouse and adopted son earned her the highest score as America’s most trusted woman (63%). Legends Den­zel Washington (62%), Meryl Streep (61%), and Julia Roberts (57%) helped propel movie stars into the highly trusted profession category.
  • … But the highest-paid ones are not. Among the female movie stars who made the list, Kristen Stewart received the lowest trust score (24%), while Tom Cruise scored low (27%) among the male stars tested.
  • Television personalities earn our trust. Robin Roberts , co-anchor of “Good Morning America,” is the most trusted woman on television (56%). Other trusted television personalities and journalists who earned high marks include Ellen DeGeneres (54%), Diane Sawyer (51%), Brian Williams (50%), Katie Couric (49%), Barbara Walters (50%), Anderson Cooper 48%), Oprah Winfrey (46%), George Stephanopoulos (47%), Scott Pelley (46%), Kelly Ripa (44%), Steve Harvey (44%), Savannah Guthrie (42%), and Matt Lauer (41%), among others. Amongst the late-night hosts, Jay Leno (35%) topped real-life rival David Letterman (30%).
  • We really trust doctors (especially if they’re on TV). Doctors who are bestselling authors without television shows didn’t fare as well. Christiane Northrup , MD (44%), Andrew Weil , MD (43%), Susan Love , MD (42%) , and Deepak Chopra , MD (40%), all scored in or near the bottom quarter of the top 100, while Mehmet Oz , MD (54%), Sanjay Gupta , MD (54%), and Travis Stork , MD (51%) all scored in or near the top quarter of the most trusted Ameri­cans. ( Nancy Snyderman , MD of “Today” came in close with a score of 50% rating her as extremely or very trustworthy).
  • We trust TV judges more than Supreme Court Justices. Straight-talking dispute settler Judge Judy (51%) had the highest score of all the judges on our list – including all nine Supreme Court Justices, and was closely followed by Judge Joe Brown (48%).
  • And the most trusted leaders in America are… Michelle Obama (53%), known for fighting childhood obesity and advocating for military families, outscored every single politician on the list, including her husband, President Barack Obama (45%). Other politicos include Colin Powell (50%) and Hillary Clin­ton (47%), both landing in the top half of our list.
  • Tweets do not equal trust. Those with large social media audiences – like Ashton Kutcher (20%) and Lady Gaga (20%) – drifted to the bottom of the list of those tested.
  • If you’re a pundit, make ‘em laugh. We take funny pundits more seriously than the straight ones. Witness Jon Stewart (36%) and Stephen Colbert (33%) outscoring more serious commentators such as Bill O’Reilly (30%), Chris Matthews (28%), and Rush Limbaugh (22%).
  • You can recover from mistakes… Clint Eastwood ‘s (56%) brief affair with an empty chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention did nothing to dent the decades of goodwill he’d built up. Ben Affleck (48%) has similarly revamped his playboy image, settling down with Jennifer Garner and getting to work (and earning accolades) as a di­rector. He lands safely in the middle of the most-trusted pack.
  • … As long as we perceive you as genuine. It’s not a surprise that dishonesty lowers your credibility. Lance Armstrong scored a low 11%, near the very bottom of the names tested. Kim Kardashian ‘s score (8%) was perhaps influenced, as she denies accusations that she married for publicity rather than love.
  • We count on steady business. Jeff Bezos (78%), founder and CEO of Amazon, built one of the most popu­lar and dependable businesses in the United States. The result: He was catapulted to the top of the most trusted business leaders in America with a score of 43%, beating out the CEOs of Microsoft (39%), Apple (35%), and archrival Google (36%).

To see the full list and story – including Vaccariello’s interview with Roberts, 15 shocking lessons about trust, famous words of wisdom on trust and a list of the most trusted professions – pick up the June issue of Reader’s Digest on newsstands and all digital platforms May 14 or visit: www.rd.com/trust.

*All percentages reflect the percentage of survey-takers who rated a candidate as extremely or very trustworthy; polling conducted by The Wagner Group, a national marketing research company.

About Reader’s Digest

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