NEWS AND OPINION:
President Trump is about to mark a year in office. Remember that first day? When petulant celebrities refused to appear at his inauguration festivities, marching bands and performance groups from the heartland stepped up to provide jubilant support. At that moment, however, the news media also stepped up to wage a negative campaign against the new president that has been unprecedented in its scope and drama.
“The first year of the Trump administration was as turbulent for the news media as it was for politics, with many journalists dropping any pretense of professionalism to become strident opponents of the president,” report analysts Rich Noyes and Mike Ciandella of the Media Research Center.
They tracked 12 months of major coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts — seen by over 25 million people each night.
They found that the Trump presidency was the biggest story of the year, accounting for one out of every three minutes of evening news airtime — nearly 100 hours in total. There was no honeymoon, the analysis found. The tone of coverage has been “incessantly hostile” — 90 percent negative, with 43 percent of the stories focused on controversies, not policies. The never-ending Russia collusion investigation alone accounted for one-fifth of all the Trump coverage.
“Many in the media, including the broadcast networks, have chosen to morph into anti-Trump activists. As a result, they provide massive attention to stories that they think make him look bad, give little air time to more positive aspects of his administration, and punish him with massively negative spin,” the two analysts report. “The polls suggest anti-Trump Democrats love that kind of news, pro-Trump Republicans hate it — while the national media are cementing their reputation as biased partisans. Their hostility against the White House is now so obvious, nobody could possibly take them seriously if they ever again claim to be fair and nonpartisan professionals.”
It has gotten so bad that The New York Post coined a new term for much of this coverage: “impeachment porn.”
It is one word, and it says all. That was President Trump‘s quiet response to CNN reporter Jim Acosta, who continued asking loud questions after the public portion of Mr. Trump’s meeting in the Oval Office with reporters was over. And a reminder: Mr. Trump will mete out his top “fake news” awards Wednesday, so stay tuned.
THE PRESS PAYS A PRICE
Regardless of their political persuasion, Americans crave truth and candor in news coverage — and in previous eras, the news media had a certain calling to supply such coverage. The intense liberal bias among journalists, first identified in the early 1990s, has taken a toll on that calling, and there are consequences. Few now trust the press.
A new poll of 19,196 people conducted by Gallup and the Knight Foundation released Tuesday finds that 66 percent of Americans say “most news media do not do a good job of separating fact from opinion,” while only 44 percent could name a news source that reports the news “objectively.” A startling 91 percent say news organizations slant their coverage to promote a certain viewpoint, while 88 percent agree that the emergence of “fake news” is a threat to democracy.
See more numbers from this hefty survey in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.
Such findings are echoed elsewhere. A Pew Research Center poll conducted in mid-2017 found that only 11 percent of Republicans said they trust national news organization, and the number was 15 percent among independents and 34 percent among Democrats. A telling Quinnipiac University poll found that 58 percent of all U.S. voters now disapprove of how the news media cover President Trump.
RUN, MITT, RUN: WELL, MAYBE
There’s a lot of chatter that Mitt Romney will run for the Senate seat in Utah, then serve as an aggressive opponent to President Trump on Capitol Hill. Indeed, Mr. Romney never dismantled his old presidential campaign site, and he certainly looks like a polished candidate who is eager to comment on weighty matters. But do Americans want him to run? That remains to be seen. Some numbers to consider from an Economist/YouGov poll released last week:
Some 42 percent of Americans said they are “unsure” if Mr. Romney should run for the Senate, 30 percent would prefer he stay out of the race, and just 28 percent would like to see him go for the office. Forty-one percent have an unfavorable opinion of Mr. Romney, 37 percent gave him the thumbs up, while the rest of the respondents were undecided. Some 37 percent said that if he were elected, Mr. Romney definitely would oppose the president.
THE WAY SENATORS ACT
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made a straightforward and gracious appearance Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee in which a quartet of Democratic senators asked the same question. Did President Trump use unsavory language when describing nations affected by U.S. immigration policy?
Ms. Nielsen replied that she did not hear the president use the term most bandied about. And then she replied to the same question two more times. On inquiry No. 4 from Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, she reasserted her role as a Cabinet member and reminded the lawmakers that there was more business at hand.
“Sir, respectfully, I have answered this,” Ms. Nielsen said. “I’ve been very patient with this line of questioning. I’m here to tell you about the threats our country faces and the needs and authorities that are needed by the Department of Homeland Security. I have nothing further to say about a meeting that happened over a week ago. I’d like to move forward and discuss ways in which we can protect our country.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 91 percent of Americans say news organization slant their coverage to promote a certain point of view; 97 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats agree.
• 88 percent say the emergence of “fake news” is a threat to American democracy; 94 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of independents and 83 percent of Democrats agree.
• 58 percent say it is “harder to be well-informed” now; 69 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats agree.
• 51 percent cannot identify an “objective news source”; 54 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents and 44 percent of Democrats agree.
• 47 percent say there is so much news bias that is difficult to “sort out the facts”; 67 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 26 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Gallup/Knight Foundation survey of 19,196 U.S. adults conducted in September and released Tuesday.
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