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Deconstructing the Battle for Public Opinion.

Of all the wars in the world today, few are as fierce or uncompromising as the war of public opinion in
America. Across multiple generations and through presidents of both dominant political parties, the
animosity of the mainstream media towards Donald Trump has never been matched, and it’s tearing at
the fabric of the nation.
Beto O’Rourke has called Trump a white nationalist, MSNBC talk show host Joy-Ann Reid has deemed him
“a risk to national security,” and The New York Times CEO Mark Thompson has used invectives like “hostile,”
“stupid,” and “dangerous” in reference to the President. Call it political theater if you wish, but there’s an
element of demonization that seems to cross the line here, even by American media standards (if such
standards exist).
The media’s calls for impeachment are never-ending, albeit ineffective: a recent Monmouth University poll
found that 59% of the respondents do not think that Trump should be impeached. Still, the mainstream press
continues to perpetuate the narrative of an American public that opposes its own president.
As you surely know by now, Donald Trump is not someone who takes criticism lying down. More than any U.S.
president in recent history – and perhaps ever – Trump has unabashedly pushed back against an agenda-based
movement that the President has dubbed “Fake News” and the “LameStream Media”:
Courtesy: @realDonaldTrump
Granted, Trump isn’t the first president to battle the press, but his “Fake News” catch phrase has stuck
and embedded itself into the American psyche like none other. Indeed, by calling out the media’s
attacks, Trump has mobilized his voter base and consolidated the populist movement against a media
that’s perceived as dishonest and ideology-driven.
And on this front, at least, the numbers indicate that Trump is winning. In particular:

  • A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 61% of voters (including 56% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans, and
    59% of unaffiliated voters) think that reporters at major news organizations like CNN, Fox News, and The New
    York Times deserve the same level of scrutiny as the people they cover.
  • 51% believe it’s appropriate for elected officials to criticize specific reporters and news organizations.
  • A separate survey by Bospar and Propeller Insights revealed that 95% are troubled by the current state of the
    American media.
  • 53% of those surveyed specifically cite “Fake News” as a problem.
  • 67% believe that ethics in journalism will be worse during the 2020 presidential campaign.

When Trump unleashes his fury against the media, he’s got the majority of American voters on his side. This
explains how even as the President of the United States, Donald Trump has managed to maintain his perceived
status as a Washington outsider and a representative of the growing populist movement.
To put it another way, Trump’s counterattacks against the media resonate with many Americans who
themselves feel marginalized and demonized by elitist journalists and biased news organizations. They trust
Trump because they distrust a media clique that neither understands nor represents working-class Americans.
This leads us to the question of whether Trump’s critiques of the mainstream media have actually been
too effective: Did he overdo it? Have we gotten to the point where no one trusts the media anymore and
journalism as we know it is dead?

National survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults. Courtesy: Pew Research Center, Business Insider
It’s a legitimate concern because freedom of the press is a constitutional guarantee, as well as a
foundational linchpin of the nation. When the populace places no faith in the media whatsoever, there’s
a vital but missing piece of the puzzle and democracy is impeded.
Fortunately, there may be hope on the horizon, as the public hasn’t permanently lost its hope in the future of
the American free press. A study conducted by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation found.