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. They found President Trump has a 45 percent approval rating, while 47 percent disapprove.
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 approve of their job performance. A whopping 50 percent disapprove.
Look at the numbers by party identification. Republican disapproval of the media? It’s 78 percent. Only ten percent approve. The Democrats are the reverse: 69 percent approve, 19 percent disapprove.
The pollsters offered other media questions: “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 people.”
Many conservatives would steer clear of saying journalists (liberal media and conservative media) are an “enemy of the people,” and stick with Steve Bannon’s take that the media elite are the “opposition party” to Trump. But even so, 64 percent of Republicans in the USA Today-Suffolk poll agreed with Trump, and only 29 percent disagreed. Liberals sided with their liberal-media buddies, 88 percent to 9 percent.
These pollsters also asked the public which statement they agreed with. Either “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. Republicans agree with Trump 79 percent to 12 percent. Democrats align with the media’s sudden rush to “accountability,” 86 percent to 7 percent.
Both sides know the media are liberal.
These results were submerged in USA Today. Their front page story on the overall poll was headlined “Temperament and tweets tripping up president.” Reporter Susan Page began: “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 tweets have cost him the political boost that a president traditionally gets from that good news.”
Page also underlined that his 45 percent approval rating makes him “the first president in modern times not to score majority approval at this early point in his tenure.” Fully 59 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: “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.” And: “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 at 37 percent approval/50 percent disapproval? It was left out.
Newspapers are a declining industry, 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.