An annual Gallup poll last month showed that the American military was the most respected institution in the country. However, the approval rating for the military has fluctuated since September 11, 2001.
Americans Who Respected the Military a Lot
2001 66 percent
By comparison, at the bottom of the list we have HMOs, Congress and big business with 15-20 percent. Journalists did a little better, but not much. Just behind the military were police, with 58 percent, and churches with 52 percent. In a separate poll, about who would be more likely to tell the truth, about 60 percent more people would pick military officers over journalists (who, in turn, were considered more trustworthy than members of Congress and lawyers).
It's not surprising that respect and confidence in the troops went up after 911, or that it peaked in 2003, after a month of reports from journalists embedded with the troops. No surprise, either, that the numbers declined after that, as the media turned against the Iraq operation and, eventually, the troops themselves. What kept the military poll numbers up was the increasing amount of reporting by the troops themselves. Blogs, email and occasional appearances on television kept reminding people that the people in uniform were not quite the out-of-control thugs the media was increasingly portraying them as.