President Donald Trump’s ongoing attacks on the American free press appears to be having an effect on public opinion: a new Ipsos survey revealed that a plurality of Republicans believe the president should have the authority to shut down certain news outlets.
> All told, 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said that they believed “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Only 36 percent disagreed with that statement. When asked if Trump should close down specific outlets, including CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, nearly a quarter of Republicans (23 percent) agreed and 49 percent disagreed.
> Republicans were far more likely to take a negative view of the media. Forty-eight percent of them said they believed “the news media is the enemy of the American people” (just 28 percent disagreed) while nearly four out of every five (79 percent) said that they believed “the mainstream media treats President Trump unfairly.”
Trump has often referred to news he dislikes as “fake news” and accused the press of intentionally painting him in a negative light.
He also claims the mainstream media will not report on his accomplishments, and insists journalists fabricate sources to make his administration look bad.
But Trump’s most striking attack is his labeling the press the “enemy of the people” — a phrase that many find outright dangerous.
> Members of the press, as well as top officials at some of the nation’s leading publications, have objected to the phrase, arguing that it is both wildly inaccurate and deeply dangerous. They have pointed to mob-like treatment of the media by Trump supporters at various rallies as evidence for their fears.
The Ipsos poll was not all bad news, however:
> In one of the poll’s few silver linings for the press, 57 percent of all respondents said that they believed news and reporters were “necessary to keep the Trump administration honest” including a plurality of Republicans (39 percent agreeing with that statement compared to 35 percent disagreeing). A slightly less robust 46 percent of respondents said they agreed that “most news outlets try their best to produce honest reporting” (compared to 35 percent who disagreed). And virtually everyone (85 percent of respondents) believed that “freedom of the press is essential for American democracy” (compared to 4 percent opposed to that statement).