President Trump's charge that mainstream news outlets such as CNN and the New York Times are "the enemy of the American people" is sinking in. Either that or Trump's Feb. 17 tweet just affirmed a view already held by many people.
Either way, 34 percent of registered voters in a new Suffolk University-USA Today poll say they agree with the president.
Just a reminder of what we are — and are not — talking about here: We are not talking about a belief that press coverage too often reflects some kind of bias or that truly important stories don't get enough coverage or that working-class perspectives are not adequately represented. We are talking about a belief that the media is working against the interests of the American people.
White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon articulated this belief during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month.
"They're corporatist, globalist media that are adamantly opposed — adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has," Bannon said. "Here's why it's going to get worse: Because he's going to continue to press his agenda. And as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, they're going to continue to fight. If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day — every day, it is going to be a fight."
This is an incredibly cynical view of an institution enshrined in the First Amendment. But it is apparently popular among a not-insignificant chunk of the population.
There is some better news for journalists in the Suffolk poll: More people say the media is appropriately holding the White House accountable than say the press is unfair to Trump.
Notice, too, that there is a gap between the number of voters who think the media is unfair to Trump and the number who consider the press an enemy. Since we can safely assume that voters who consider the press an enemy do not think the media is appropriately holding the White House accountable, we also can assume that the "enemy" group is a subset of the "unfair" group. Which means the "unfair" group breaks down like this:
That little blue piece means at least some — roughly 1 in 5 — of the voters who view the media as unfair would not go so far as to call the press an enemy. It means there are a few people who can strongly object to news coverage without demonizing the people who produce it. That's a ray of hope -- maybe?