There are innumerable ways in which Donald Trump has damaged the United States during the last fifteen tumultuous months. Even setting aside his unsavory connections to Russia and his role in helping them subvert our democracy, Trump’s negative impact is historically catastrophic. It’s ironic that he repeatedly brags that he has done more in his first year than any other president. Because he’s right, although not in the way his narcissistic dementia leads him to believe.
Trump has brazenly ignored long-standing principles for financial conflicts of interest. He has terminated regulations that protect citizens from environmental harm, consumer abuse, healthcare, and workplace safety. He has promoted discrimination against vulnerable communities encompassing race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. He has recklessly dangled the prospect of war with nuclear powers like Iran and North Korea. He has violated laws associated with ethical governing and has been frequently repudiated by the federal courts. And he has generally lowered the standards for civil discourse with his infantile name-calling, insulting, bullying, slandering, and outright lying.
But nowhere in this morass of corruption and immorality has Trump been more destructive than with his hostility to the free press and the First Amendment. He has made attacking the media a core component of his march to authoritarian rule. His cries of “fake news” whenever any journalist dares to report facts that he doesn’t like ring out across the landscape of the deplorable disciples that he cultivates. And it’s having an overtly dangerous effect on the national political environment.
A new poll by Quinnipiac asked voters this question: “Which comes closer to your point of view: the news media is the enemy of the people, or the news media is an important part of democracy?” The response by all respondents shows that a majority consider the media to be “an important part of democracy” (66 -22 percent). And while that 44 point difference is significant, it’s still frighteningly low. But it was brought down by one particular group of respondents. A majority of Republicans (51%) said that the media is “the enemy of the people.” No other demographic sector came anywhere close to that.
The phrasing of the question was clearly designed to elicit support or opposition to Trump’s infamous disparagement of the press. He has frequently called the media “the enemy of the people” in his rallies and public statements. It’s a concept he borrowed from dictators like Joseph Stalin. But the fact that it has caught on with so many Republican voters is more than a little disturbing. It indicates that Trump is successfully infecting a segment of the population with an ideology that is flagrantly anti-American. And worse – it’s pro-totalitarian dictatorship.
Fortunately, other results from the survey are more comforting:
- Voters trust the media more than Trump to tell the truth about important issues: 53 – 37 percent.
- The vast majority of voters say that Trump should not fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller: 74 – 13 percent (including 59 – 25 percent among Republicans).
- More people believe James Comey than Trump: 54 – 35 percent.
- More voters believe that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump: 53 – 35 percent.
- American voters disapprove of the job Scott Pruitt is doing as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: 52 – 25 percent.
Still, that doesn’t absolve the Republican Party from embracing a despicable philosophy that denigrates the press and disrespects the Constitution. If they have problems with the media they should seek to reform and/or improve it, while still cherishing its ideals. Their position that it’s an opponent of democracy casts it as something that needs to be defeated and done away with. And that makes them the real foes of democracy.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.