Wrong! 43 Percent of Republicans Favored Giving President Power to Close News Outlets?

Sam Stein of the Daily Beast wrote up an Ipsos poll with with this headline:

43% of Republicans Want to Give Trump the Power to Shut Down Media

The ‘enemy of the people’ talk is working. A plurality of self-identified Republicans say they want Trump to have the power to take ‘bad’ media outlets out.

Ipsos actually asked this question: "The president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior." Among self-identified Republicans, 23 percent strongly agreed, and 20 percent somewhat agreed...and 18 percent somewhat disagreed, and 18 percent strongly disagreed.

This is a no-brainer: It's a strongly disagree! 

When asked more specifically about shutting down the famous names -- CNN, The New York Times -- only 23 percent agreed and 49 percent disagreed. This makes you wonder if Republicans in this poll were thinking "bad behavior" would mean ragtag press outlets that encouraged riots or shooting the president, or published flagrantly damaging national secrets. One could argue on "prior restraint" or a "right to publish" in extreme examples without "closing news outlets" lingo. Or someone might have thought it was whether a president could tell a yelling reporter they couldn't cover an event in the Rose Garden (which is different, although CNN thinks it isn't). 

Republicans ought to have been warned "This poll can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion."

I might ask a different question: "Do you think the press has too much power?" Republicans feel, emotionally, that the media are automatically granted the power to decide what the national agenda should be, and what everyone should be talking about, and their power is abused to punish Republicans and powder-puff Democrats.

This is why only 29 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement "Most news outlets try their best to produce honest reporting." They feel the liberal media always cook the books for their favorites.

Stein took longer to get around to the point that if you ask the question a different way, you get a less frightening answer: "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)." That includes 83 percent of Republicans.

Eighty-nine percent of Republicans agreed that "Freedom of speech is one of the values that make America great." That would include the freedom to denounce CNN and The New York Times as flagrantly, arrogantly liberal.

Why is Ipsos asking this question? Ipsos usually polls for the Associated Press, and the easy guess is they want to imply that Trump fans have been encouraged by the president to hate freedom of the press. But when Obama was prosecuting leakers and harassing Fox News reporter James Rosen, did Ipsos do a poll to see if Obama fans wanted to give the "historic" president the power to shut down news outlets (like Fox)?

Tim Graham's picture

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