The national media seems fixated on what President Donald Trump does wrong without crediting accomplishments, said Lake City resident Marlene Breuer, who approves of Trump’s labeling the news media as “the enemy of the people.”
But Alison Greydanus, of New York Mills, is deeply troubled by it.
“I think it’s irresponsible to even say that,” Greydanus said. Both women were participants in a Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll.
The majority of Minnesotans agree with Greydanus across regions, at different income levels and age groups, and among both men and women. Just 29 percent of likely voters statewide approved of Trump’s description of the news media as the enemy of the people, while 64 percent disapproved. Approval rises slightly outside the core Twin Cities, but remains below majority support in southern and northern Minnesota, and the rest of the metro suburbs.
Only Republicans and Trump voters support the description in large numbers. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans approve, while 20 percent of independent voters and just 4 percent of Democrats answered that way.
Men were more likely than women to agree, according to the poll conducted Sept. 10-12, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Voters under 34 disagree with Trump by the highest numbers — 75 percent — and those polled who earn more than $50,000 a year were less likely to agree with Trump than those who earn under that. Regionally, the highest rate of approval is in the metro suburbs, but even there only about one out of three are on board.
Trump has repeatedly attacked the news media on Twitter, at rallies and during interviews. Last month, a Fox News interviewer asked Trump if the press is the enemy of the people. He responded: “No, not all ... It’s a big chunk, OK? Somebody said, ‘What’s the chunk?’ I said, ‘80 percent.’ It’s a lot. It’s a lot.”
At a June rally in Duluth, supporters booed and chanted “CNN sucks” when Trump mentioned “those very dishonest people back there, the fake news.”
It’s one thing to criticize a particular story or news outlet, said Jane Kirtley, who directs the University of Minnesota’s Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law. But she said it’s dangerous for the president to swipe broadly at the news media, which she said is “one of the most important checks on government excesses and one of the most important conduits of information for the public.”
“If you’re going to say, ‘No, you don’t need information,’ or ‘It’s a subversive act to provide it to you,’ that’s right out of the autocrat’s playbook,” Kirtley said.
Breuer, a retiree and Trump supporter, said national media like CNN haven’t focused enough on the strong economy and haven’t given the president’s southern border wall proposal a chance.
“They are so anti-Trump. They aren’t being honest at all,” Breuer said. “I mean, they can talk against him, but once in a while they should say something good about him.”
Greydanus, 46, an operations manager for a trucking company, said she is concerned about Trump’s leadership.
“I think a lot of people are into this ‘alternative facts,’ ” Greydanus said. “Because something is a criticism, it isn’t necessarily fake.”
Grady Rostberg, who participated in the poll, said he supports Trump but disagrees with him about the news media. Rostberg, of Hutchinson, says he sees bias in TV news and it sometimes seems “they get their talking points in the morning from [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer.” But a free press is important, he said.
“Gee whiz, the Constitution says they have a role here to play,” Rostberg said. “And it should be just the opposite of being the enemy of the people, it should be supporting the people and bringing out the truth.”