The latest poll by USA Today and Suffolk University carried some eye-opening numbers about public disapproval of the media’s aggressive attempts to run the country. It found that President Trump has a 47 percent approval rating and that 44 percent disapprove of him.
That’s not surprising. The media talk about his unpopularity all the time.
But here’s what they don’t talk about: their own numbers. Only 37 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of their job performance. A whopping 50 percent have an unfavorable opinion.
Look at the numbers by party identification. Republican unfavorable opinion of the media? It’s 78 percent. Only 10 percent have a favorable opinion. The Democrats are the opposite: Sixty-nine percent hold a favorable view, and 19 percent hold an unfavorable view.
The pollsters offered other media questions, asking: “President Trump has said journalists and the media are the enemy of the American people. Do you agree or disagree?” That’s an exaggerated question. Trump’s actual tweet accused only ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and the “failing” New York Times of being “fake news” and the “enemy of the American people.”
Many conservatives would steer clear of saying that journalists (liberal media and conservative media) are the enemy of the people and stick with chief White House strategist Steve Bannon’s take that the media are the “opposition party” to Trump. But even so, 64 percent of Republicans in the poll agreed with Trump, and only 29 percent disagreed. Democrats sided with their liberal-media buddies, 88 percent disagreeing and 9 percent agreeing.
These pollsters also asked the public which statement they agreed with, “President Trump is right when he says the news media is unfair and biased against him” or “The news media is right when they say they are appropriately holding the White House accountable.”
This result clearly demonstrates how divided the country is on the media under President Trump. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans agree with Trump, and 12 percent disagree. Democrats align with the media’s sudden rush to “accountability,” 86 percent disagreeing and 7 percent in agreement.
Both sides know the media are liberal.
These results were submerged in USA Today. The front-page story on the overall poll was headlined “Temperament and tweets tripping up president.” Reporter Susan Page began saying, “President Trump gets high marks for leadership amid growing economic optimism, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, but questions about his temperament and his tweets have cost him the political boost that a president traditionally gets from that good news.”
Page also underlined that his 47 percent approval rating makes him “the first president in modern times not to score majority approval at this early point in his tenure.” Fifty-nine percent would like Trump to turn down the tweeting, but even we’ve made that recommendation.
The poll questions about the media finally make a brief appearance 23 paragraphs deep in the story but without the partisan breakdown. Page says: “Meanwhile, Trump’s attacks on reporters divide Americans: 42% say he is right when he says the news media are unfair and biased against him; 48% say the news media are right when they say they are appropriately holding the White House accountable. Are the news media ‘the enemy of the American people’ as the president has asserted? One-third of Americans, 34%, agree with him. Fifty-nine percent disagree.”
The media’s rating of 37 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable was left out.
The newspaper industry is declining, as USA Today surely knows: Gannett split into two companies in 2015, one for broadcasting and one for the less profitable print business. It is interesting to watch elite newspapers in the Trump era doubling down on the liberal-activist course. There’s a reason half the country no longer cares to read them.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.