The results of a March Quinnipiac University poll indicate that President Donald Trump’s repeated hostilities toward the American news media are having an effect – asked if certain (but unnamed) news outlets are enemies of the American people, 4 in 10 respondents said yes.
But for Republicans, that number jumped to 8 out of 10.
There are a lot of ways to read that, though. Without identifying the outlets, partisans might simply focus on those they don’t like. Republicans might think of CNN; Democrats of Fox News Channel. Either might think of partisan online outlets. It’s hard to say.
But Quinnipiac conducted another survey more recently with more direct wording, asking, “Which comes closer to your view: The media is enemy of the people or an important part of democracy?”
Less than a quarter of the public says that the news media broadly are better described as an “enemy of the people” than an “important part of democracy.” But among Republicans, more than half preferred the former term to the latter.
Granted, there was a limited set of options from which to choose. The question wasn’t “Are the media the enemy of the people?” but “Which is a better descriptor?” It’s still remarkable, though, that so many in Trump’s party think that “enemy” is more accurate than “important part of democracy.”
Unsurprisingly, Republicans also put more trust in Trump to tell them the truth about important issues as compared to the news media, with 81 percent choosing the president.
In a similar vein, Pew Research Center also released a poll Thursday, gauging Americans’ views toward the press as well as what it means to be a good citizen.
Ninety percent of respondents said that it was somewhat or very important to follow what happens in government and politics to be a good citizen, a requirement that would seem to hinge heavily on consumption of news reporting.
Only 8 percent of respondents said they had a great deal of confidence in the news media to act in the best interests of the public — with Democrats expressing a great deal or a fair amount of confidence more than three times the rate of Republicans.