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Americans Split on Media Treatment of Trump Administration

Americans Split on Media Treatment of Trump Administration

Story Highlights

  • 36% think media has been too tough, 28% say not tough enough
  • Nearly three-quarters of Republicans say media has been too tough on Trump
  • Democrats divided between saying coverage about right, not tough enough

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the wake of several contentious encounters between President Donald Trump's White House and the national press corps, Americans disagree on the news media's coverage of the new president and his administration. Just over a third of Americans (36%) think the media has been too tough on Trump, while just under a third (31%) think it has been about right and 28% say it has not been tough enough. Republicans overwhelmingly believe the media has been too tough on Trump.

Americans' Views on Media Treatment of Trump Administration
In its coverage of Donald Trump and his administration so far, do you think the news media has been too tough, about right or not tough enough?
Too tough About right Not tough enough No opinion
% % % %
U.S. adults 36 31 28 5
Republicans 74 17 6 3
Independents 37 31 26 7
Democrats 9 40 49 2
Gallup Daily, Jan. 30-31, 2017

Trump's team has battled some media estimates of the size of his inauguration crowd, media descriptions of Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees as a "Muslim ban," and one reporter's assertion that Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office, which the White House refuted. Meanwhile, Trump has been on the defensive for his team's reliance on "alternative facts" and his assertions of voter fraud in the November election, which The New York Times deemed a "lie."

It is against this backdrop that nearly three in four Republicans (74%) say the media has been too tough on Trump. Democrats, on the other hand, are more divided, with 49% saying the media has not been tough enough and 40% saying its coverage has been about right.

The public's mood, according to this late January poll, differs from that in January 2009, when only 11% of Americans thought the news media had been too tough on newly elected President Barack Obama. Nearly half (48%) thought the media was about right in its coverage of Obama and his administration, while 38% said it was not tough enough.

As is the case today, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to be unhappy with the media: In 2009, 65% of Republicans thought the media was not tough enough on Obama, while 66% of Democrats thought it was about right.

Americans' Views on Media Treatment of Obama Administration in 2009
In its coverage of Barack Obama and his administration so far, do you think the news media has been too tough, about right or not tough enough?
Too tough About right Not tough enough No opinion
% % % %
U.S. adults 11 48 38 3
Republicans 3 27 65 5
Independents 10 45 43 2
Democrats 18 66 13 3
USA Today/Gallup, Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2009

The divergence between Republicans' and Democrats' views on media coverage of the president reflects the broader skepticism rank-and-file Republicans have of the news media. Gallup trends have long shown fewer Republicans than Democrats expressing high levels of confidence in the press to report the news "fully, accurately and fairly." This deficit swelled in 2016 as GOP confidence in the press plummeted to 14%, down from 32% in 2015.

Bottom Line

Americans as a whole are split in their assessments of whether the news media is covering the Trump administration fairly. However, this masks broad disapproval among Republicans, who mostly believe the media -- which Trump has declared "the opposition party" -- is being too hard on the new Republican president. Meanwhile, about half of Democrats think the media should be tougher on Trump.

These data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 30-31, 2017, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,018 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 U.S. Daily works.

Gallup


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