A new Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests that if Republicans had their way, only explicitly pro-Trump news outlets would be able to exist.
On Tuesday, The Daily Beast obtained the earliest version of the poll asking Americans about their trust in the media. In the poll itself, 43 percent of Republicans apparently said they wouldn’t mind President Trump having the power to unilaterally suspend certain media outlets based on their coverage of his administration. Specifically, those respondents agreed with the statement, “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,” with only 36 percent of Republicans disagreeing with that view.
Nearly a quarter of Republicans (23 percent) said that Trump should be able to shut down specific news outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN, though 49 percent disagreed. However, 48 percent of Republicans agreed with Trump’s sentiment that the media was “the enemy of the American people,” and only 28 percent of Republican respondents disagreed. And nearly four-fifths (79 percent) of Republicans who took the poll thought that the media treats Trump “unfairly.”
But Republicans weren’t the only respondents who shared a hatred of the media. 12 percent of self-identifying Democrats and 26 percent of Independents agreed that the media was “the enemy of the American people.” The same percentage of Democrats, along with 21 percent of Independents, also agreed that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” And when asked if it should be easier to sue journalists who knowingly publish false information, 85 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats agreed.
But despite these sentiments, the survey also showed that 85 percent of all respondents agreed that “freedom of the press is essential for American democracy,” with only four percent of respondents disagreeing. And roughly half of respondents (46 percent) in the survey agreed that “most news outlets try their best to produce honest reporting.”
The disturbing survey results come after a slew of Trump campaign rallies in which he verbally attacked news outlets attending the rallies as “fake,” and repeatedly calling journalists the “enemy of the people.” Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s attacks on news outlets, prompting CNN’s Jim Acosta to walk out of the daily press briefing in disgust.
President Trump’s anti-media rhetoric continues despite the growing danger to American news outlets, like a gunman walking into the offices of the Annapolis Capital-Gazette and shooting 5 journalists dead at close range. Reporters Without Borders ranked the United States #45 out of 180 countries in its global press freedom index due to both Trump’s attacks on the free press and former President Barack Obama’s relentless prosecution of whistleblowers who leaked government malfeasance to news outlets.
Nick Jewell is a freelance political writer, and a proud resident of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.