A new Gallup poll should give pause both to President Trump’s ardent defenders who say that a rogue press corps is out to get him and to his more hysterical critics who say that the media isn’t being sufficiently adversarial. Though the country is deeply divided, the median voter thinks that press has been fair:
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.
It’s worth noting that the public perceives the press as being far tougher on Trump than it was on Obama early in his presidency:
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.
Many liberals have expressed concern that the Trump administration will silence the media as it makes a bid to consolidate power and silence critics. But as we’ve noted before, the biggest threat to the media’s role in our democracy probably isn’t the federal government—it’s the fact that, for a variety of reasons, the public’s trust in the media has been declining for years. The best thing the press can do is try to report rigorously fairly, skeptically, and with humility, rather than trying to right some perceived political imbalance by trying to either puff up the administration or take it down.