Hint: it's not Walter Cronkite.
A Reader's Digest (yes, it's apparently still around) poll found Tom Hanks to be the most trusted person. Below, a brief Top Ten List.
- Tom Hanks
- Sandra Bullock
- Denzel Washington
- Meryl Streep
- Maya Angelou
- Steven Spielberg
- Bill Gates
- Alex Trebek
- Melinda Gates
- Julia Roberts
Notice how no journalists make the list? Not until #12, Robin Roberts of Good Morning America.
Other interesting folks include a chemists at #11 and #14 (weird), an economist at #15 (weirder, but then again they all have won Nobels), Dr. Oz at #16 (kill me now), Michelle Obama at #19 (first real politico to make it, if you count the First Lady as a politico), and Noam Chomsky at #20 (no doubt voted on by people who haven't read his stuff). There are a few TV talking head types, journalist-like folks, sprinkled throughout the list, as are more Hollywood types and even Supreme Court justices. That's heartening. And let's not forget Judge Judy, somehow getting #28, and Adam Sandler at #64 (what the hell?).
As a side note, two from the NYTimes and one from the WSJournal person each made the top 101. CNN had a few. Fox had Shep Smith.
So basically this is a popularity contest, or more to the point -- a familiarity contest. It's hard to say because nowhere on the site can I easily find anything about the poll methodology other than "over 1,000" people were surveyed. Did they generate names on their own, these respondents? Were they given a giant list?
Finally, let us praise the journalism professor who finished at #83 -- Michael Pollan, who is there more for his books and stuff, not for being a professor.