A Washington Post newspaper box (L) stands beside the empty box of competitor Washington Times (R) outside the Washington Post on August 5, 2013 in...
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Republicans embrace Trump’s vision, see news organizations as the ‘enemy’

Donald Trump hadn’t even been in office a month when he labeled American news organizations as “the enemy of the American people.” Though it’s unclear whether the president was aware of the phrase’s history, it’s an expression with a fraught history.

Indeed, we’ve seen and heard other prominent world leaders attack critics as “the enemy” of their people, but the list includes historical villains such as Stalin and Mao.

A year later, however, what’s even more discouraging than an American president posturing like an authoritarian is the effect he has on public attitudes. The latest Quinnipiac poll, released yesterday, included this scary result:

The news media is an important part of democracy, 66 percent of American voters say, while 22 percent say the media is the enemy of the people. Republicans say 51 - 37 percent that the media is the enemy of the people, rather than an important part of democracy, the only group to believe that.

It’s important to recognize how deeply unhealthy this is. The United States has two major political parties, and according to this independent national poll, a majority of the people who identify with one of those parties looks at one of the pillars of our democracy as Americans’ “enemy.”

The data coincides with new results from the Pew Research Center, which found that only 16% of Republicans trust news organizations to act in the public’s interests.

Or put another way, Donald Trump set out to undermine confidence in one of the few institutions that can hold him accountable. When it comes to the president’s partisan allies, those efforts appear to be working.