And over the past two years, the pattern has exploded. Republican support for the media’s watchdog role dropped from 77 percent in 2016 to 42 percent in 2017, and 38 percent in 2018. Set against 89 percent Democratic support in 2017 and 82 percent in 2018, the gaps are the largest in the three decades-plus that Pew has been asking the question.
A safe bet: The discrepancies will persist at least as long as President Trump uses his position to discredit the U.S. media in nearly every public appearance. What’s less predictable is just how this dynamic will shake out over the long term. Many national news organizations — especially cable news outlets — have seen their financial fortunes tick up thanks to the endless loop of news stories stemming from the Trump White House.
What happens, though, after Trump leaves the scene, after the national news windmill slows down, and the believers in Trump’s “fake news” shtick remain on the sidelines? That’s something the surveys can’t tell us.