Posted Jul 13, 2021 by Michael L. Brown

According to a recent survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports, “58% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat agree that the media are ‘truly the enemy of the people,’ including 34% who Strongly Agree.”

If these statistics are accurate, this means that this extreme level of distrust cannot simply be blamed on former President Trump’s rhetoric, from his calling the mainstream media “fake news” to referring to the media as “the enemy of the people.” The distrust must go deeper than that.

In fact, the numbers would indicate that there is distrust of both the leftwing media as well as the rightwing media. As John Nolte pointed out (and expressed with his typical bombast), based on a deeper analysis of the Rasmussen numbers, “a whopping 76 percent of Republicans know the media is our enemy, along with 37 percent of Democrats.”

The survey was conducted on July 7-8, with just three simple questions submitted to 1,000 likely US voters. The questions were: 1) Do you trust the political news you are getting? 2) How serious of a problem is “fake news” in the media? 3) Do you agree or disagree with this statement: The media are “truly the enemy of the people”?

As for the first question, Nolte noted that. “Only 37 percent said yes, while a plurality of 43 percent said no. Only 20 percent were not sure.

“When that same question is broken down by party, only 26 percent of Republicans said they trust the news media, while 58 percent said no.”

And note this: only 56 percent of Democrats said they trusted the political news they were getting, indicating not just serious doubts about right-leaning news outlets but also about some of their own, left-leaning outlets.

As for Republican doubts about the reliability of the political news they are hearing, I would say the much higher numbers are due to: 1) the high percentage of mainstream news outlets that lean left; 2) Trump’s incessant attacks on these outlets; 3) the amount of “fake news” that really is being propagated.

With regard to the second question, Nolte wrote, “When asked, ‘how serious is the “fake news” problem in the media?’ a WHOPPING 83 percent said very (55 percent) or somewhat (28 percent) serious. Only 14 percent said not very (9 percent) or not at all (5 percent) serious.”

Again, the concern about “fake news” was bipartisan (92 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats agreed that fake news is either a very serious or somewhat serious problem), which also indicates the degree to which political news outlets in particular are known for being highly partisan themselves.

Just ask your average Republican if they trust CNN or your average Democrat if they trust Fox, and you’re like to get the same answer from both, something like, “Are you kidding?”

This is not to claim equivalency between, say, CNN and Fox (hey, Fox never turned disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti into a folk hero; this montage is a must watch). But it is to say there is a reason that the mistrust and suspicion is so high.

As for the perception that the media are actually “the enemy of the people,” surely, some of that was stirred up by Trump. But again, the numbers are too broad and too bipartisan to blame this all on him. Plus, he was not simply speaking into the air when he launched that very strong accusation.

This is backed up by the responses to a Twitter poll I posted on July 9, asking, “Do you agree with the majority response to this poll [meaning, the Rasmussen poll] that the media is the enemy of the people, or do you see this as people believing Trump propaganda?”

The results were striking: 63 percent agreed; only 14 percent blamed the sentiments on Trump; 20 percent thought it was an equal mix; and less than 3 percent had no idea.

Even recognizing that the large majority of my Twitter followers are conservatives, with a significant majority of them being Trump voters, the response to the poll was still enlightening.

Just think of the media’s reporting on COVID-19 and masks and vaccinations and the CDC and the WHO and the origins of the virus.

These are potentially matters of life and death. Yet many Americans are not confident they are getting the truth from the media in the midst of so much partisan reporting. Are we getting the facts, or are we getting someone’s (or some group’s) spin of the facts?

And, theoretically, if the government was not being truthful (be it under Trump or Biden), the media would be expected to dig deeper and get to the truth, rather than parrot government misinformation. Here, too, there appears not to be much public confidence.

Could some of this explain the general drop in cable news viewing in recent months? (Of course, it could simply be general news burnout.)

Even the left’s incessant bashing of Trump, coupled with withholding stories that would make him look good and failing to report on relevant news that would make his opponents look bad, has likely resulted in the especially steep decline in CNN viewers (to give one case in point). Over the top, even dishonest reporting can only last so long.

Again, I have no doubt that some of the mistrust and animosity towards political news outlets has been stoked by Trump. But it’s also clear that he was not simply punching the air. Instead, he threw a match into a bucket of gasoline that was already there.

What this should mean to all of us who, in any way, report on the news is simple: we need to do our best to be as accurate and unbiased as we can be, making clear where the news stops and our opinions begin. And we need to encourage pushback and scrutiny and dialogue and debate.

Otherwise, we do everyone a disservice.

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Comments

BW posted a comment · Jul 25, 2021
Why is a multitude of counselors valuable (Proverbs 15:22)? Having a multitude of counselors is valuable because hearing varied viewpoints gives us a healthier foundation upon which to form opinions. Gods view point is our foremost consideration! Safety in Gods word! We are but pilgrims passing through this wearisome land! ___________________________ Now that we know news outlet manipulate/skew there reporting to achieve a narrative thereby a manipulation!
David N. Gray posted a comment · Jul 19, 2021
Yes, this is about more than Trump, and I agree with the conclusion "to do our best to be as accurate and unbiased as we can be". But it bothers me that the "good reason" which the headline seems to promise isn't provided by the body of the article. Instead the assumption here seems to be that if a lot of people believe something, then there must be some truth to it. This overlooks the tendency for people to believe something just because other people say it and it fits what they want to believe. The concept of the "wisdom of crowds" presumes that people are making independent judgements. If instead people are echoing other people's opinions, that becomes "group think". I'm particularly bothered by the phrase "enemy of the people", because it doesn't even really make sense. (For example, aren't journalists also American people themselves, so are they enemies of themselves?) I've never heard anyone even try to justify it, they just keep saying it. A phrase that absurd on the face of it doesn't seem like a conclusion that many people would come to independently.
BW posted a comment · Jul 15, 2021
Left wing media run a muck no accountability the unicorn theology network-CNN
ShaneMoberg posted a comment · Jul 15, 2021
Dr Brown, please quit lumping in "right wing " media along with the ubiquitous leftist mainstream media. Any short comings of biased right wing media pales in comparison to the way the leftist media purposely and recklessly lies. Don't forget the whole black lives matter movement started on a lie disseminated by CNN-NPR-PBS-MSNBC-ABC-CBS-NYT-LAT-WP monster: that Michael Brown was shot in cold blood by Darren Wilson in Ferguson. Darren Wilson who was exonerated despite the best efforts of the Obama administration. That man I'm sure has to live under an assumed name thanks to THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE. When they were proven wrong about that story, they just dropped it, no mea culpas. That's what that do all the time, push some big lie enough to get a chunk of the public to accept it and when it gets exposed as a lie,they just fine another lie to push that furthers their Marxist narrative. ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!!!!
BW posted a comment · Jul 13, 2021
Coloring the story is what is distasteful and dangerous and what the electorate does not need and should not have to navigate! The distrust of the media results in this perception they make or break campaigns . The perception is they unfairly influenced elections! The media was undeniable hard after Biden winning the election and the electorate knew it They use to call that being in bed with politicians! It was beyond obvious! That Rasmussen pole points to it ! Trump claimed the media was his enemy and therefore the enemy of the people! The media no longer trusted to give you a truthful uncolored picture! Those days are long gone , Trump simply stated what everyone already knew ! Media are not for the people ! They have their own agenda and have now shown it to American voters And are prejudicial against one or the other candidate in primary’s or political races ! God we pray your will be done! Expose the lies, agendas of men .. Jesus name amen!
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Swkh310 posted a comment · Jul 13, 2021
Stick with the non-profits: factcheck.org, politifact, media matters, and right wing watch. The networks serve their shareholders only.