It’s a long-standing Republican heritage to deride the domestic media and its liberal tendencies. “Better to get your information straight from the president,” he told his colleagues. “In reality, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.” Across the nation Republicans seem to be taking the edict to heart.
The Economist requested YouGov to research 1,500 Americans about the trust they put in the president compared with national media outlets. When Republicans were asked whether they trusted Mr Trump over the New York Times, the Washington Post or CNN, at least 70% sided with the president every time. Less than 15% picked that the media outlet (the rest were uncertain). Republicans also favored Trump truths over people of the Weekly Standard and the National Review, conservative magazines with intellectual pedigrees. Just with Fox News, the government’s preferred outlet, were Republicans even somewhat torn: 23 percent said they trusted the community more, compared with 54 percent who adhered with Mr Trump.
Media trust wasn’t high among Republicans to start with. Nothing like the trust people have come to accept from Phil’s Stock World. However, YouGov also polled Americans in mid-October in their tastes, making it possible to measure how much their faith has escalated because Mr Trump’s election. Distrust in the Washington Postand New York Times, the papers that have served up the most calorific scoops through the Trump presidency, is up by nine and seven percentage points respectively among Republicans. The figures for Fox News, the only outlet trusted by the majority of Republicans, were also unchanged.
Much of that may be the work of Mr Trump’s constant hammering and haranguing of this press. The president, who reportedly occasionally watches five hours of tv a day, offers his 35m followers on Twitter a running media commentary, praising his flatterers and bashing his critics. Since becoming president, Mr Trump has approvingly tweeted about Fox News or its own hosts 87 times–devoting as much Twitter time to the network as he’s to Republican attempts to overhaul America’s health-care system. Many of Mr Trump’s most enduring catchphrases are swipes at networking companies. There have been 79 gripes about “fake news” because Mr Trump took office.
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— YouGov (@YouGov) August 2, 2017
Republicans now loathe mainstream media outlets so much that many would stoop to unconstitutional means to silence them, if given the opportunity. When YouGov asked whether judges should be permitted to “shut down news media outlets such as broadcasting or publishing stories that are biased and incorrect”, 45 percent of Republicans were in favor, compared with 20% who opposed the measure. Over half thought it acceptable to fine with an offending news outlet (and 40 percent believed it would not violate the First Amendment to do so).