NEWS AND OPINION:
It looks like President Trump is winning the public approval war out there, no matter how much bad press he receives during the coronavirus crisis. The media, in fact, is 16 percentage points below Mr. Trump according to a wide ranging Gallup poll gauging public reaction to the assorted responses to the pandemic.
“Americans are generally positive in their evaluations of how each of nine leaders and institutions has handled the response to the coronavirus situation. Eight of the nine receive majority positive ratings — led by U.S. hospitals, at 88% approval. Only the news media gets a more negative than positive review,” writes analyst Justin McCarthy.
Some simple numbers: 60% of Americans give Mr. Trump a thumbs up for his response to coronavirus, 44% approved of the news media’s response. Republicans are standing by the president; 93% approve of the Trump response — while only 25% gave the nod to the press.
Yes, partisan divides are plenty in the findings. Find more numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.
WAY TO GO: U.S. TOPS WORLD RESPONSE
Don’t doubt that America is ready for the challenges ahead. The nation is, actually, No. 1 in terms of disaster readiness according to the most serious of sources.
“Despite claims by the mainstream media and the Democratic Party that the United States was ‘ill-prepared’ to handle the coronavirus pandemic and that actions by Trump administration made us vulnerable, the United States was actually ranked the best-prepared country in the world to handle a pandemic in a study by Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security published in late 2019,” writes Matt Margolis, a columnist for PJ Media.
The U.S. has a “Global Health Security Index” score of 83.5 out of a possible 100 — the highest ranking in the analysis of 195 nations. Britain placed second with a score of 77.9, Netherlands third at 75.6. Australia fourth at 75.5 and Canada fifth at 75.3.
Scores are based on a nation’s ability to prevent, detect or respond to health emergencies such a “the emergence or release of pathogens,” among other factors.
“The Trump administration has been the target of a significant amount of misinformation being disseminated by the Democrats and the mainstream media designed to undermine confidence in the administration’s handling of the pandemic, including false reports that Trump ‘dissolved’ the White House pandemic response office and that Trump cut funding to the CDC and NIH,” Mr. Margolis noted.
“Despite these false reports, Trump’s approval ratings have improved in the past few weeks,” he says.
A SOMEWHAT ASTONISHING HEADLINE
“President Trump is as popular as he’s ever been right now,” notes CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza, who cites new findings from both the aforementioned Gallup poll and other findings from Monmouth University.
“What accounts for Trump’s rise? Simple: His response to the coronavirus crisis. The heightened approval for how Trump has managed this crisis — particularly among independents and even Democrats — is what is pushing up his overall approval numbers,” Mr. Cillizza notes.
A TIMELY TWEAK
A cranky narrative has emerged from several news organizations in recent days, implying that Fox News compromised its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and was minimizing the danger of the virus. A sample: The network was “playing down risks for weeks” according to The Independent, a British paper.
New York Times media columnist Ben Smith also joined in the fray, citing recent Fox News coverage which he said depicted the coronavirus pandemic as “a Democratic- and media-led plot against President Donald J. Trump” rather than a deadly health threat.
“Critics sometimes compare Fox, in its loyalty to Trump, to ‘state TV’” but that description is off. State TV implies command and control. The most-watched news channel in America has become, since the fall of its powerful founder, Roger Ailes, much more like the Trump White House: a family business where it’s not entirely clear who is in charge,” Mr. Smith wrote this week.
In an interview with MSNBC, he suggested that Fox News went into a “reflexive defense of the president’s attacks on the media.”
But sometimes even esteemed journalists tweak their opinions. Mr. Smith had a subtle positive observation — a clarification — about his opinion of the situation, tucked into the conversation and referencing the network’s leading primetime host.
“When Sean Hannity says this is the latest hoax, I don’t think he thinks the virus is a hoax. He thinks that the media coverage is actually transcending what’s happening to people on the ground,” Mr. Smith told MSNBC.
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POLL DU JOUR
• 885 of U.S. adults approve of U.S. hospitals and their response to the coronavirus crisis; 93% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats agree.
• 80% approve of their state government’s response; 85% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats agree.
• 61% approve of Vice President Mike Pence’s response; 88% of Republicans and 36% of Democrats agree.
• 60% approve of President Trump’s response; 93% of Republicans and 29% of Democrats agree.
• 59% approve of the response of Congress; 65% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats agree.
• 44% approve of the news media’s response; 25% of Republicans and 61% of Democrats agree.
Source: A Gallup poll of 1,020 U.S. adults conducted March 13-22.
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