News & Politics

Poll: More Voters Blame the Press for Dividing the Country than Trump

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Abe Lincoln (reportedly) said it best: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Apparently, two-thirds of the country can’t be fooled all the time.

A new Morning Consult poll found 64 percent of Americans blaming the press for dividing the country compared to 56 percent who blame Trump.

The poll of 2,543 voters was conducted Oct. 25-30, after news first broke of mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc’s attempted acts of politically motivated violence and amid news of a shooting by suspect Robert Bowers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

The view that the national news media has been a mostly divisive presence was shared among partisans: A plurality of Democrats (46 percent) said the national media has done more to divide than unite — about half the share of Democrats (88 percent) who said the same of Trump. Eight in 10 Republicans agree that the media has done more to divide, while a quarter of Republicans said Trump has been mostly divisive.

Much of this can be driven by opinions from political elites, such as that of the president, as political commentator Craig Crawford wrote in his 2005 book on politicians in the press: “Politicians won the war against the media with a simple rule: first, attack the messenger.”

A Morning Consult/Politico poll in July found that 28 percent of voters said they had “a lot” of confidence in the presidency — more than twice the 13 percent who said the same of television news and double the 14 percent who said the same of newspapers.

There is no surprise in these numbers for anyone who doesn’t dismiss the opinions of ordinary voters and see them as dullards. The press has spent decades talking down to the American people, belittling their values and beliefs, dismissing their concerns, and sneering at their patriotism.

And the press is now surprised that no one believes them? They’re surprised that ordinary people can see through their partisanship and bias and realize that they are most responsible for stoking the fires of divisiveness and disunion?

They shouldn’t be. People are, if nothing else, smart enough to see through the media’s agenda-driven coverage of domestic and international events. Trump is billed as an authoritarian, racist, white supremacist because he dares to call out the press for some of their extraordinarily biased coverage of him. It’s true Trump lies a lot, but the media fact-checkers must have been asleep for the eight years Obama served as president. They missed a few, to be sure.

Politicians lie. Also in the news, the sun will set in the West. But when the media lies in service to a political or “social justice” agenda, liberty and democracy are imperiled.