News of Donald Trump Jr.’s apparent complicity in Russian election interference is stunning, but only if you’re a Democrat. If you’re a Republican, you don’t believe a word of it. And if it is true, it’s a nothing burger, or Hillary Clinton did it first.
That’s not surprising because a June poll by the Pew Research Center, which nobody read about because results were released on the same day as Junior’s bombshell dropped, shows 86 percent of Republicans believe the national news has a negative effect on the way things are going in the country and tend to be skeptical about what they read and hear. That is up from 76 percent just two years ago.
Compare that to Democrats, 46 percent of whom say the national news media has a negative effect. Among liberally leaning Democrats, it’s 39 percent. Lump the parties together and 46 percent of Americans view the national news media unfavorably.
The media favorability chasm between political parties is as wide as the popular vote in last year’s presidential election. This concerns us at the Shinbone Star because many of us gave our hearts and souls to the thankless job of keeping the public informed. More importantly, a large slice of America is willing to shoot the messenger rather than acknowledge that news is bad because bad things are happening, and odds are there’s a Trump in the woodpile.
After news of Junior’s activities became public, the right wing mouthpiece InfoWars tweeted, “As suspected the lying NY Times fabricated another fake story.” The professionally angry Sean Hannity of Fox News asked “Is this a Hillary Collusion?” What we said.
Note to Junior: You believed there is a Crown Prosecutor of Russia!?!
Donald Trump waged war on the media during the presidential campaign after mainstream media turned out to be watchdogs rather than lap dogs. That’s why the Founding Fathers linked freedom of the press with democracy. Some political analysts describe Trump’s strategic plan to denigrate the media, which is a threat to his autocratic style of government. That, or he’s a 71-year-old man-boy who thinks and acts like he’s stuck in his pre-teen years.
The result has been blanket coverage of Trump et alia by the folks at the New York Times and the Washington Post and others.
But Trump’s anti-media campaign continues. In a Politico story you also didn’t read because the Trump/Russia story sucks all other news into a black hole, the White House this week asked a media group to criticize a specific reporter for his hard-hitting coverage. Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said Monday’s request sought to chastise the reporter and criticize their work. The reporter wasn’t named, but if it’s not Jim Acosta with CNN we’ll be quite surprised. White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, questioned later after Mason spilled the beans, said she did not know what he was referring to.
“I think it’s a reflection of frustration (the swamp rats of the White House) have with the media,” Mason said, “just as we have raised our concerns and frustrations with them.”