Readers are more likely to trust news sources that align with their own political leanings. We ask: is the higher reported trust in politically aligned news sources due to perceived institutional trustworthiness or does it merely reflect a preference for the political claims aligned sources publish? Furthermore, do respondents report their actual beliefs about news or do they choose to express their political commitments instead?
We conducted a US-based experiment (N=400) using random association of news claims to news sources as well as financial incentives to robustly identify the main drivers of trust in news and to evaluate response bias. We observe a comparatively weak effect of source on news evaluation and find that response differences are largely due to the alignment of the respondents’ politics and the news claim. We also find significant evidence for expressive responding, in particular among right-leaning participants.