Who is really to blame?
The election of Donald Trump has begun what has been referred to as ‘The War Against The Media’. The President, notorious for tweeting about his disapproval of the media, has urged the public to watch out for ‘fake news.’ This has created a nationwide fear of the press and its reliability. Fake or not, the President has sparked a conversation that has constituents questioning the credibility of the media vs. what the president says to be true.
Whether or not his relationship with the press has affected his polling numbers is still unclear. Trump’s approval ratings have been historically low since he was sworn in on January 20th this year. According to Gallup, eight days into his presidency, Trump’s approval rating was at 45%. Throughout his first hundred days, this number continued to drop to record lows. In March, 36% approved of his presidency. In August, after the protests in Charlottesville North Carolina, his job approval rate dropped down to 34%.
In a report by Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Centre of Media, Politics and Public Policy, it is suggested that U.S news outlets are portraying Trump in a negative tone. According to this research, 93% of Trump related stories, published by outlets such as NBC and CNN, were considered to have a negative tone. Specifically, CNN has been publicly condemned by the president multiple times for producing ‘fake news’- which is a term has been branded by the president during his election campaign and through into his presidency. In August, the President retweeted a photo-shopped video of him beating up a person, with the CNN logo covering his face.
In an industry where only 7% of U.S journalists identify as republican, it’s impossible to have unbiased journalism. However, with disapproval rates as high as President Trump’s, just how blatantly skewed does an article have to be to produce that kind of backlash? If what he says about the press is true, the media has become more of an opinion leader than the President himself.
To blame the press for his polling numbers shifts the responsibility in the wrong direction. The more alarming issue is not how the press depicts Donald Trump, but rather how Donald Trump continues to depict the press.
Freedom of press remains a key component in the foundation of the 1st Amendment. To question its reliability crosses a fine line of being ‘unconstitutional’. Traditionally, this would be a violation of everything a conservative in office stands for- especially a candidate with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again.’ Not only is his attitude towards the press hypocritical, but dangerous.
‘Democracy dies in darkness’. While accusing the press of being untruthful, President Trump is potentially infringing on the constitutional right to freedom of press.
Inherently, the press has the power to influence the perception of Trump. However, when the approval rate is historically low, the press cannot be the only factor. The American people are facing a far more damaging message than the media – President Trump himself.