April 4, 2017

Americans are highly aware that President Trump and the media have locked swords, and nearly three-quarters think those tensions are suppressing their access to important political news.

Those are the findings of a new two-question survey the Pew Research Center released today.

Hardly surprising, Pew researchers found that 83 percent of a survey panel of more than 4,000 believe Trump’s relationship with the media “is generally unhealthy.”

What’s more provocative, 73 percent agreed that the feud is “getting in the way of Americans’ access to important political news.”

Related Training: Access Denied: Your Rights When Government Shuts Media Out

I suspect that most journalists would say, at least privately that Trump’s “enemy of the people” crusade against critical reporting may be bad for the country but has generated a fountain of gripping political news.

What did those surveyed think they were missing? And do they take sides in the fight?

I’ll speculate a little — but, following a Pew protocol, lead author Michael Barthel said he would not comment given the limits of the available data. The report concludes:

The findings do not speak to who Americans blame for the tensions or what they want done about the situation.  But what is clear is that they have high levels of awareness and concern.

My guess would be that the question — like those frequent polls on “trust” in he media — aggregates an assortment of people with an assortment of complaints.

Some supporters of the president likely agree with him that the media is pursuing an investigative vendetta rather than covering what they consider the issues of substance they voted on.

Those on the middle and left may see the President’s combative tweets as a smoke screen to cover the meager results and sketchy policies emanating from the White House.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if some who deplore continued partisan bickering and finger pointing are dissatisfied with what seems not to be working in the political and legislative arenas.

That’s another question for another day.

The survey was of a group that Pew checks with monthly with different questions. It was conducted between March 13 and March 27.

It found only minor differences between age groups on the two questions. Republicans and Democrats were roughly equal in dissatisfaction with the current quality of political news.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
Rick Edmonds

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