April 27, 2018
It’s faded into the background noise by now, as does anything in politics today that’s older than about 12 hours. But it’s worth occasionally remembering that the sitting president of the United States disparaged the media as “the enemy of the American people” within his first month in office.
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!,” President Donald Trump posted via Twitter on Feb. 17. 2017.
There was a lot going on in that moment, more than we even realized at the time. (Three days before this, for example, Trump allegedly suggested to then-FBI director James Comey that he drop the agency’s investigation into just-fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.) So in short order, the comment was added to the lengthy column of “Things Trump did that most other presidents would never do,” and most of us moved on.
But Trump’s targeting of the media didn’t fade – and neither did the sentiment in that tweet.
Last month, Quinnipiac University’s pollsters asked Americans if they agreed with the sentiment Trump expressed in that tweet. Were certain news outlets – unnamed by Quinnipiac – enemies of the American people? Nearly 4-in-10 said yes – including more than 8-in-10 Republicans.
There are a lot of ways to read that, though. Without identifying the outlets, partisans might simply focus on the outlets they don’t like. Republicans might think of CNN; Democrats of Fox News. Either might think of partisan online outlets. It’s hard to say.
In a poll released on Thursday, Quinnipiac was more direct.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Less than a quarter of the public says that the news media broadly is better described as “enemy of the people” than an “important part of democracy.” But among Republicans, more than half preferred the…