Trump's Anti-Media Campaign and the Threat to Press Freedom

Posted by Dale Eisman on October 23, 2017


Is President Trump’s campaign to demolish public confidence in the news media and perhaps to roll back the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press working?

The president apparently thinks so and there is – unfortunately – evidence to back him up.

On Sunday, as The Washington Post notes this morning, Trump tweeted his delight with the results of a Politico-Morning Consult poll that found nearly half of registered voters believe that negative stories about him and his administration are fabricated by reporters and editors.

“It is finally sinking through…” the president wrote. “FAKE NEWS, even worse! Lost cred.”

The Politico survey is among several recently published polls full of disquieting findings about the public’s view of First Amendment freedoms. A sampling:

  • 46 percent of voters believe the media fabricate stories about Trump while just 37 percent believe they don’t;
  • Barely half (51 percent) of voters believe that broadcasters should be shielded from government attempts to lift their licenses if the government says they’ve fabricated stories about the president and administration
  • Nearly four in 10 Americans believe Congress should be able to block the publication of sensitive information about national security;
  • 74 percent believe the First Amendment should not protect the publication of “fake news;”
  • 43 percent believe that colleges should be able to ban speeches by controversial speakers;
  • 59 percent believe the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom should not apply to all religions;
  • 40 percent believe that government should be able to prevent people from engaging in “hate speech.”

“These polls underscore an existential threat to our way of life,” asserted Post reporters Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve. “To prevent the continuing atrophy of our democracy, concerned citizens from all walks of life and both parties must speak up for the virtue and necessity of the First Amendment wherever it comes under attack. There also clearly needs to be a national recommitment to civic education.”

Well said!

###

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Media and Democracy

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