The Fix | Analysis
September 12, 2018 at 2:28 PM
Since the earliest days of President Trump’s campaign, a key feature of it has been direct attacks on the media. Those have included regular taunts at his rallies directed at “fake news” and, most recently, joking praise for a congressman who pleaded guilty to assaulting a journalist.
Shortly after the campaign ended, Trump reportedly explained to CBS News’s Lesley Stahl in an interview the rationale for his sustained efforts to discredit the media. “He said you know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,” Stahl said.
But Trump is not winning the war when it comes to whether people trust him over the mainstream media. According to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, the percentage of Americans who trust Trump over the mainstream media has dropped four percentage points since the last time the poll was done at the beginning of the summer. Only 30 percent of people trust the president over the mainstream media, the lowest number over the past 10 months.
The only group that trusts Trump more than the media is Republicans. Nearly three in four — 72 percent — Republicans trust the president more than the media.
Even a number of groups that Trump won trust him less than they do the mainstream media.
— More than half (54 percent) of independents — a group Trump won in 2016 that has since soured on him — trust the media more than they do the president. Twenty-seven percent of independents trust Trump over the mainstream media.
— Half of men (51 percent) trust the media over Trump. Only about a third (32 percent) of men trust the commander in chief over the media.
— Nearly half (49 percent) of white people trust the media over Trump. Thirty-eight percent trust the president more.
But no one distrusts the president more than black people. Eight percent of black people trust Trump more than the media.
These numbers matter if Trump hopes for GOP success in the midterm elections as he’s urging voters to back candidates who support his agenda. And it appears that many voters are looking to the mainstream media to tell the truth that Trump and his allies will not. If Americans cannot count on the words coming from their leader, they might be more inclined to support politicians who will hold him accountable and maybe even aim to take him down. And that is not a good sign for a president whose approval rating is skirting around record lows.