President Donald Trump tweeted that the media were “the enemy of the American People.” Do the American people agree? In the May issue of AEI’s Political Report, we look at public opinion on the relationship between Trump and the media, overall confidence in the media, and questions about “fake news.” We also look at how Americans feel about proposed cuts to federal funding for public broadcasting.
Trump’s treatment of the media: Most (59 percent) registered voters do not think journalists and the media are the enemy of the American people (Suffolk/USA Today), and 60 percent disapprove of the way Trump talks about the media (Quinnipiac). Additionally, 43 percent are “very concerned” Trump will try to limit the freedom of the press (Quinnipiac).
The media’s treatment of Trump: A majority (53 percent) of registered voters disapprove of the way the news media have covered President Trump (Quinnipiac). More people say the news media have been too tough on Trump and his administration (32 percent) than gave that response at the beginning of the Obama administration (11 percent). In both cases, slightly less than four in 10 said the media were not tough enough (Gallup). In a similar question asked by CNN/ORC, more people also believe the news media have been too critical of Trump than felt that way about President Barack Obama or President Bill Clinton.
Confidence in the media: Confidence in the media has declined over time. In September 2016, 68 percent of Americans said they did not have very much or had no trust and confidence in the media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly (Gallup). When Fox News asked in February 2017 about confidence in eight institutions, the news media ranked last.
Fake news: Twenty-seven percent of Americans believe that some traditional major news sources such as TV and newspapers regularly report fake news stories; 41 percent believe some online news websites do (Monmouth). A strong majority (64 percent) think made-up news stories leave Americans “a great deal” confused about the basic facts of current issues and events (Pew). Asked who they trust more to tell the truth on important issues, 53 percent of registered voters say the media, while 37 percent say Trump (Quinnipiac).
Broadcasting budget cuts: Seventy percent of registered voters think it would be a bad idea to eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which includes NPR and PBS, as part of President Trump’s budget proposal (Quinnipiac). In a Harvard/Harris poll, a plurality of registered voters want to keep funding the same for NPR and, separately, the TV-based Public Broadcasting System. In both polls, Republicans are supportive of budget cuts for public broadcasting, while Democrats are opposed. (…)
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