It was not, however, the only thing included in Fox News’s poll. Among other queries, the pollsters asked a battery of questions focused on confidence in public institutions: the Supreme Court, the FBI, the media and Trump himself. The FBI generated the most confidence, with 69 percent of respondents indicating that they had “some” or “a great deal” of confidence in the bureau. Respondents had the least confidence in Trump.
There were two tiers, really. The FBI, the CIA and the Supreme Court were viewed with at least some confidence by at least half of respondents. The media, Trump and Congress were viewed with confidence by less than half.
Notice one interesting aspect of those data: Trump actually generated a greater percentage of people saying they had “a great deal” of confidence in him than the media, Congress or the Supreme Court generated. It is a function of the fervency of his support. That he is otherwise viewed without much confidence is a function of the relative shallowness of his support.
As a guy who works for a newspaper, I was curious about how confidence in Trump compared to confidence in the media, particularly among demographic groups. So I typed the poll data into a spreadsheet and made a chart.
There are two diagonal lines on that graph. The first runs from the bottom left to the top right and indicates the divider between those who have more confidence in the media than in Trump and vice versa. The other line is indicated by the individual data points, reflecting the views of individual demographic groups. It runs roughly from the top left to the bottom right, showing the inverse correlation between confidence in the media and confidence in Trump. As one goes up, the other goes down.
The farther a point is from the dashed line, the greater the difference in confidence. Democrats are way up to the left, with a lot of confidence in the media and not much in Trump. Republicans are in the lower right, holding the opposite positions. Independents, interestingly, are at lower left, without much confidence in either.
Other demographic splits align with partisanship. Women are more confident in the media than in Trump, and men are the opposite. Nonwhites are more confident in the media than in Trump. Whites are not. We also highlighted age groups: Both those younger than 45 and those 45 and older express slightly more confidence in the media than in Trump — but older respondents had more confidence in both than did younger ones.
The data captured in this graph did not emerge by accident. Trump specifically and members of his party broadly have targeted the media as untrustworthy for years. For Trump, that argument is near-existential, a central part of his us-against-the-world rhetoric.
But it is not just Trump’s advocacy that reinforces that inverse correlation. To have confidence in what Trump says, one must necessarily not have much confidence in the media’s assessments of his honesty and accuracy. The Washington Post has counted more than 12,000 lies, misstatements and exaggerations from Trump since he took office. You can either accept that figure as accurate or decide it is The Post that is the dishonest actor.
For the record, we are not. Whether you accept that depends very much on how you feel about Trump.