In several countries, mass media have become, at least from my viewpoint, a dominant means of forming public opinion on just about anything. In the US it is particularly apparent that experts are less trusted by the public than media, or even less than people's prejudice. In politics, this is even more widespread, where media make or brake a politician, and politicians cater directly to the media. Imagine how things could turn when the politician owns the media. This is the current situation in Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi heads a formidable media empire and tries to fend off numerous accusations of corruptions and abuse of power (loosely speaking) that emanate from the judiciary.
Fabio Sabatini studies how much the Italian Prime Minister is trusted by the public. He finds that trust in television is by far the cleared determinant for trust in Berlusconi, and the second is lack in education, the third distrust in the judiciary. So much for Berlusconi claiming his empire has nothing to do with his repeated elections.