- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 28, 2017

Nearly half of all Americans believe media outlets fabricate negative stories about President Trump, according to a new survey.

Forty-four percent of respondents in the 2017 Poynter Media Trust Survey say the media invent “fake news” to make the president look bad.

Of that cohort, 24 percent say negative stories about Mr. Trump are made up “about half of the time”; 14 percent “most of the time”; and 6 percent “all of the time.” Seventy-seven percent of that cohort are Trump supporters, and 74 percent are Republicans.

The survey found that a substantial minority of Americans, 31 percent, believe the media are the “enemy of the people,” a moniker Mr. Trump assigned to the national press in February. Among Trump supporters, that number is 63 percent.

Even more, 25 percent of Americans — and 42 percent of Trump supporters — say the government should “be able to stop a news media outlet from publishing a story that government officials say is biased or inaccurate.”

While Trump supporters have an overwhelmingly negative view of the media, Democratic confidence in the press has skyrocketed since Mr. Trump’s election.

Seventy-four percent of Democratic or Democrat-leaning respondents express “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in the news media. During the presidential race, Democratic confidence in the media sat at just over 50 percent — its lowest point in decades.

Republican confidence in the media, meanwhile, has continued its decades-long decline and currently sits at 19 percent.

Overall, 49 percent of all Americans express “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in the press, nearly the same as the 50 percent who say they have “only some” or “hardly any” trust in the media.

Despite the fact that confidence in the media is slightly up this year, 69 percent of Americans still say the media “tend to favor one side” in political coverage.

At the inaugural Poynter Journalism Ethics Summit earlier this month, Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College, said increased trust in the media is a “double-edged sword” because it’s being driven mostly by partisan polarization.

“We’ve seen these dynamics occur on issues with scientists, and their perception is being affiliated with the Democratic Party, and that really harms scientific credibility in the public debate,” Mr. Nyhan said during a panel discussion.

“If journalists go down that the same road and become seen as part of the Democratic [Party] coalition, I think it’s very harmful to the ability of all you to do your jobs and to create this reasonably broad, shared consensus about the nature of reality that we’d like to hope is a mission of journalism,” he warned.

The Poynter survey is based on a sample of 2,100 respondents from YouGov’s Pulse panel, which was fielded from Nov. 2-8.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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