The first month-and-change of the Donald Trump presidency hasn’t been kind to the media. There have been his infamous Twitter spats, branding of CNN as “fake news” (and later “very fake news”), and press conferences that seem like journalists are sitting in front of a firing squad. And then of course there was last night’s Academy Awards presentation, with constant barbs from host Jimmy Kimmel.
Three days ago, Trump barred a handful of major media outlets from attending a Sean Spicer press conference, including CNN, the New York Times, Politico, Buzzfeed, and the majority of the foreign press. The following day, Trump announced he’d be skipping out on the White House Press Correspondents’ Dinner. The dinner, which was occurred since 1921, has seen the attendance of the sitting president every year with the exceptions of Richard Nixon in 1972 then 1974, and Jimmy Carter in 1978 then 1980. The last to skip the dinner was Ronald Reagan in 1981 (who was recovering from a gunshot wound).
Some hilariously tried to portray this as an attack on the First Amendment. Who else missed the “thou shalt attend the White House Press Correspondents dinner” clause?
Never before have hundreds of people who hate Donald Trump been so offended that he wouldn’t grace them with his presence. It’s not just Trump who has the impression that the media sees a target on his back (and the rest of him, to be honest) — most people see the media as biased against him as well. According to the Wall Street Journal, Just over half of Americans think the media’s coverage of President Donald Trump has been too critical, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
While 51 percent rate the media as too critical of Mr. Trump since the presidential election, 41 percent say the coverage has been fair and objective, while 6 percent say the media hasn’t been critical enough.
It isn’t clear what role Mr. Trump’s barrage of attacks on the fairness and credibility of the press has played in shaping the majority’s opinion that coverage of his administration has been too negative.
A majority of those polled, some 53 percent, also believes that the news media have exaggerated problems in the Trump administration. Some 45 percent say that is not the case.
Among those whose primary news source is the conservative-leaning Fox News Channel, 79 percent agreed with the statement that “the news media and other elites are exaggerating the problems of the Trump administration, because they are uncomfortable and threatened by the kind of change that Trump represents.” Even large numbers of more-liberal MSNBC audience, 40 percent, thought that the media had overstated the problems.
It should come to no surprise then that trust in the media is dwindling.
A survey from last September found that Americans’ trust in the mass media dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history. Just 32 percent said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media, compared with 53 percent in 1997.
To put that in perspective, that means more Americans trust Donald Trump than the media. And given the anti-Trump vitriol we’ve been enduring since his inauguration, that’s saying something.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]