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Americans Remain Divided on Media's Coverage of Trump

Americans Remain Divided on Media's Coverage of Trump
by Art Swift

Story Highlights

  • 35% say media have been too tough on Trump; 34% say not tough enough
  • 77% of GOP say media too tough; 53% of Democrats say media not tough enough
  • Solid majority in U.S. following conflict between Trump and the media

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About as many Americans say the news media have been too tough on Donald Trump (35%) as say the news media have not been tough enough (34%), amid the president's public battle with the media. This is similar to March, when Americans were also about split in their evaluations. An additional 28% say the news media's coverage of Trump is "about right."

Americans Divided on Media's Coverage of Donald Trump
In its coverage of Donald Trump and his administration so far, do you think the news media have been too tough, about right or not tough enough?
Too tough About right Not tough enough
% % %
July 2017 35 28 34
March 2017 32 24 37
January 2017 36 31 28
Gallup

Slightly more Americans today than shortly after President Trump's inauguration in January (28%) say the media are not being tough enough on Trump. The percentages saying the coverage was "too tough" or "about right" were roughly the same as they are now.

The media's coverage of Trump has been a major story since he took office. The president has referred to segments of the news media as an "enemy of the people" and "fake news."

But even as Trump's clashes with the media continue, Americans' views of the way media have treated Trump seem mostly fixed. Public opinion held steady after new developments such as the recent Twitter conflict between Trump and "Morning Joe" co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. In that exchange, President Trump called attention to Brzezinski's physical appearance and made assertions about Scarborough's mental state. The "Morning Joe" hosts responded, "Donald Trump is not well" in a Washington Post column.

Republicans, Democrats Differ in Perceptions of Media Treatment of Trump

Republicans and Democrats hold diverging beliefs about how the news media are treating Trump. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans say the media have been too tough on him, up from 64% in March. However, the shift was not enough to move the overall number much, particularly as independents' and Democrats' views haven't changed.

Republicans Believe News Media too Tough on Donald Trump, Democrats Say Not Tough Enough
In its coverage of Donald Trump and his administration so far, do you think the news media have been too tough, about right or not tough enough?
January 2017 March 2017 July 2017
% % %
Republicans
Too tough 74 64 77
About right 17 21 12
Not tough enough 6 9 7
Independents
Too tough 37 34 30
About right 31 23 30
Not tough enough 26 37 36
Democrats
Too tough 9 9 8
About right 40 27 38
Not tough enough 49 59 53
Gallup

On the other end of the spectrum, 53% of Democrats say the media have not been tough enough on Trump, though the percentage of Democrats who say "about right" is up 11 points to 38% from March.

Americans Slightly Side With Media in Its Struggles vs. Trump

Gallup also asked Americans who they side with in disputes between Trump and the media. Currently, 36% say they lean toward or strongly side with the news media, while 32% side either moderately or strongly with the president.

Americans Slightly Lean Toward Media More Than Trump in Public Disputes
In these disputes, in general, do you -- [ROTATED: strongly side with Trump, lean toward Trump, side with neither Trump nor the media, lean toward the media (or) strongly side with the media]?
Trump, strongly Lean Trump Neither side Lean media Media, strongly
% % % % %
July 2017 17 15 29 21 15
March 2017 13 20 28 20 17
Gallup

About three in 10 U.S. adults agree with neither side. These data are virtually unchanged from March, suggesting that the lines have been drawn in this battle.

Forty-eight percent of Republicans strongly side with Trump, while 3% of Democrats are firmly on the side of the president. On the other end, 32% of Democrats strongly side with the media, and 3% of Republicans say the same.

In the months since January, it is obvious that Americans are paying relatively close attention to the matter. In the U.S., 74% say they are following this Trump-media conflict very or somewhat closely. This is virtually unchanged from March.

Implications

Trump has become a lightning rod for media scrutiny since he announced his campaign for president, and that has continued now that he is in office. Public opinion appears to be settling into a roughly even split between those who sympathize with Trump and those who take the media's side.

The last time Gallup asked about perceived media toughness prior to Trump was shortly after Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009. Then, 48% said that the coverage was "about right" and 38% said "not tough enough." Only 11% said "too tough," suggesting that Americans' perceptions about the media coverage of the Obama presidency, albeit in its early stages, were quite different from today.

With Republicans believing the media are too harsh toward Trump -- and Democrats saying the media aren't harsh enough -- these familiar partisan lines are likely to persist as this presidency continues. Perhaps a sign of the media's dilemma regarding how to cover Trump, the percentage saying the media's coverage of him is "about right" has not reached a majority across the three surveys Gallup has conducted.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Explore President Trump's approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 5-9, 2017, with a random sample of 1,021 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup


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