- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 05 April 2017
- Written by BRENDAN GREVE | CO-POLITICS EDITOR
A new poll published by the Monmouth Polling Institute on Mar. 29 found that the President of the United States, Donald Trump, is less trusted than the media. The national poll that can be found on the Monmouth Polling Institute website titled “POTUS Less Trusted than Media, ‘Fake News’ comes from all Sources” compared trust in Trump with three major news outlets— ABC, MSNBC, and Fox.
This poll comes at a time when the state of politics in the country is one of division. Monmouth’s last national poll published on Mar. 22 said that 75 percent of Americans felt that the country is divided on “our most important values.” Three weeks later, this still seems to be the case despite unification efforts by the Trump administration.
The media or Trump’s criticism of it seems to play a role in this division. “Fake news” has become a hot topic and Trump has not been afraid to show and tell how he feels about the media. Trump’s slamming of the media was a frequent occurrence during his presidential campaign to discredit his criticizers. He has continued this tactic so far in his presidency to defend against criticism from stories like the Russian meddling in the 2016 election accusation, the travel ban, and many others. He sent out two blistering tweets towards the media on Saturday, Apr. 1.
According to USA Today he tweeted toward Chuck Todd, one of the moderators on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “When will Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd and @NBCNews start talking about the Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL and stop with the Fake Trump/Russia story?”
He also tweeted towards those covering the Russia story, “It is the same Fake News Media that said there is ‘no path to victory for Trump’ that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!”
These are just some examples of Trump’s criticisms to the media, which he frequently does via Twitter. According to the Director of the Monmouth Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, “Trump’s relationship to the media hasn’t helped himself of the media. It is hurting both his image and the media’s image as well.”
Murray’s comments reflected in his most recent poll, which found that 81 percent of participants agreed that Trump has had a worse relationship with the media than most of his predecessors. The poll reported that 58 percent of Americans say that Trump’s relationship with the media has hurt his image while 51 percent say that the relationship has hurt the media’s image. These percentages are out of the 801 participants interviewed nationally.
In terms of trust in Trump compared to the media, the poll found that 28 percent of Americans would trust Trump as an information source compared to ABC News. For the more liberal leaning MSNBC, 33 percent of Americans trust Trump over the news network. For Fox News, which is more conservative leaning, only 17 percent trust Trump more while 37 percent trust the news outlet more. Of the participants, 36 percent trust both Fox and Trump equally.
However, many are skeptical of polls and the media since most polls and media outlets predicted a victory for Democratic Nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 Presidential Race. When asked about the inaccuracy of the polls during the election, Murray said, “2016 was unique.” He said that polling was actually not off by a lot but “There is a small group that distrusts government so much that they would not participate in polls.”
Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of the Masters of Public Policy program, Dr. Stephen Chapman, said, “There is definitely a partisan effect at play with the latest MU poll, as they discuss in their press release attached to the poll. When answering a question, respondents tend to use heuristics (mental shortcuts).”
He explained, “If the respondent is a supporter of Trump, they are probably more likely to trust him as well as conservative leaning outlets; the opposite is true for more liberal respondents.”
He continued, “This is also consistent with the media outlet questions in that an outlet like MSNBC will be more trusted by liberals and conservatives with Fox News. This is a very common phenomenon in survey research.”
Senior political science student, Danielle Frassetti said, “In my opinion the 2016 election ruined American journalism... it no longer has any creditability.” She continued, “It’s the same media and polls that predicted Hillary would win, they were super against him during the election and they still are. The media is so biased.”
A former intern for State Senator Jennifer Beck and senior political science student that wished to remain anonymous said, “I believe Trump has kept many of his campaign promises thus far while being generally misunderstood and misconstrued to the general public by the media.”
The student continued, “The relationship between the administration and the American media is unprecedented and polarizing. Rather than explaining his legislation in an unbiased and strictly fact-driven matter, members of the media painted on words such as ‘Muslim Ban’, and ‘racist’ to misconstrue the purpose.”
Angela Ryan, a senior political science student and intern at Congressman Chris Smith’s Washington D.C. office, said, “Working on Capitol Hill this semester I notice that sometimes the full story is not always reported. I have more of an advantage to see what really goes on here in D.C. and how things really operate.”
She continued, “If you were to watch Fox and CNN side by side, which is what offices here do, you will notice that the same topic will be reported but it would seem as if it is a completely different issue or story.”
Murray said that some Trump voters are not accounted for in polls because their votes were not based off ideology. He acknowledged the part of America that switched from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016 actually have something in common.
He said, “What the Obama and Trump voters have in common is that they voted for change, they want their voice heard.”
GRAPHICS COMPILED by Jasmine Ramos