Trump’s attacks on media are influencing Republicans’ attitudes toward press


President Trump’s frequent and vitriolic attacks on the news media are encouraging fellow Republicans to develop drastically more negative opinions of journalists.

“It’s certainly having an effect if you look at where Republicans have moved,” Dan Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), said during the Friday episode of “What America’s Thinking,” Hill.TV’s public opinion show.

“The media has never been a terribly popular institution in the U.S., but more recently, I think it’s trended more negative, largely driven by Republicans moving in a far more negative direction.”

Throughout his short political career, Trump has made attacks on the press a cornerstone of his political strategy of motivating culturally conservative Americans. The president has often referred to journalists as “fake news” and claiming on multiple occasions that the press is the “enemy of the people.”

In July, New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger met privately with the president to express his concern about Trump’s language.

“I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people,’” Sulzberger told the Times. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

Days after a gunman opened fire in their newsroom killing five people, staff of the Annapolis, Maryland, paper, the Capital Gazette, wrote in an open letter to readers that they “won’t forget being called an enemy of the people.”

In an April survey conducted by Quinnipiac University, 51 percent of Republican respondents said the news media was better described as “the enemy of the people” instead of “an important part of democracy.” Just 37 percent of Republicans surveyed agreed with the latter characterization.

Among Democrats surveyed, 91 percent characterized the press as an important part of democracy, versus 3 percent who called the media an enemy of the people.

On Thursday, presidential adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump said, “I do not consider the media the enemy of the people.”

Later in the day, her father claimed he had only been lashing out at unspecified “FAKE NEWS” journalists in his earlier insults.

“They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!”

—Matthew Sheffield

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