Donald Trump attacks the media almost as regularly as he moves his bowels. He infamously kept reporters in press pens during the presidential election and has, at various junctures, referred to journalists as “enemies of the people.” As president, he tweeted a gif of himself bodyslamming the CNN logo and a cartoon of a Trump train running over a network reporter. (The latter tweet was published three days after Heather Heyer’s murder at the hands of a neo-Nazi motorist.)
Just last week, he urged the people of Puerto Rico not to believe “#FakeNews” about his government’s woefully inadequate response to Hurricane Maria, a mind-rending message considering that virtually the entire island remains without electricity.
This ploy has energized his febrile base—Trump’s approval rating among Republicans has yet to dip below 78 percent, according to Gallup—but data indicate it’s had one major unintended consequence. According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, the public’s trust in news outlets is surging, while confidence in the word of the president has dropped.
Of the 14,300 people surveyed, 48 percent of adults hold either “a great deal” or “some” confidence in the press, up 9 percent since last November. Conversely, 48 percent have a measure of faith in the president, down from 51 percent earlier this year. Fifty-seven percent of the public expressed confidence in Obama’s presidency before he left office.
“What you’re seeing now is a gradual recognition of the importance of the press,” Martha Kumar, a White House historian, told Reuters. “[The people] are gravitating toward institutions they trust.”
Tragically, for the future of the country and the planet, the American people are arriving at this conclusion approximately a year too late.