President Trump hates the press. He spends nearly as much time attacking CNN and the “failing” New York Times as he does attacking Democrats. He’s referred to journalists as an “enemy of the people” both on Twitter and in public appearances. In March, he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to examine options for jailing reporters who published leaked information.
As President Donald Trump continues to attack what he calls “fake news” and the news media keeps reporting on the internal troubles of the Trump Administration, it seems that no one comes out well. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, public assessments of media trustworthiness have declined in the last few months, but overall, Americans put more trust in specific media than in the President. Neither the President nor the media get much credit for their interactions with one another. Majorities disapprove of how each handles the other. The results were scary for anyone concerned about the future of American democracy.There are the expected party differences. Democrats approve of the media, Republicans approve of the President. Independents disapprove of both. As far as the tone of the media’s presidential coverage, more see it as unfair than describe it as fair. Just about half of Republicans say it is “very unfair.” Since early May, the President attacked CNN seven times in tweets, and took on MSNBC and the Morning Joe hosts. Trump referred to “Fake News” 34 times in that time period – more than half the references he made to “Fake News” in all his tweets since February 4.
Every one of those tweets received negative public reaction in the YouGov Tweetindex. But those tweets may have had their desired effect, as several major media outlets have fallen in public esteem in the past few months. In early May more people believed that three prominent newspapers (The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall St. Journal) and three cable news outlets (CNN, FOX NEWS and MSNBC) were more trustworthy than not. Now, only The Wall St. Journal gets higher trustworthy than non-trustworthy ratings, but even its assessment has fallen.
According to the poll, Americans are roughly evenly divided on whether the US government should have the power to shut down unfriendly media outlets: 28 percent favor, 29 percent oppose, and 43 percent are unsure. But the results become really striking when you break them down by partisan identification: