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Trump has little success turning public against the free press

Trump said this week that journalists "don't like our country." Is anyone actually buying this nonsense?
Image: Donald Trump
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2016 file photo, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to speak to a campaign rally in Raleigh, N...

In predictable fashion, Donald Trump spent quite a bit of time at his Phoenix rally this week whining about American news organizations. In fact, after accusing journalists or being "really, really dishonest people" and "bad people," the president said of reporters, "I really think they don't like our country. I really believe that."

It was reminiscent of Trump's argument from earlier in the year that major news outlets, including NBC News, are "the enemy of the American people" -- a phrase with a fraught history.

And while it matters when the leader of a liberal democracy adopts authoritarian tactics, and declares himself the sole arbiter of truth, there's a broader question to consider: is anyone actually buying the president's nonsense?

To better understand the answer, consider the new Quinnipiac poll, released yesterday.

American voters disapprove 55 - 40 percent of the way the news media covers Trump, and disapprove 62 - 35 percent of the way the president talks about the media.Voters trust the media more than Trump 54 - 36 percent "to tell you the truth about important issues."

Understanding the approve/disapprove numbers can be tricky, since we'd need more detailed information about the public's perspective. For example, the results found most Americans disapprove of the way Trump is covered, but we don't know why: do some want journalists to be more aggressive toward the White House or less? The results don't tell us.

But when it comes to trust, Trump has invested an enormous amount of energy into telling the public not to trust the media, and for the most part, Americans disagree.

Taking a look at the details in Quinnipiac's poll, the only constituencies that trust the president more than news organizations are self-identified Republicans, white men, and whites without college degrees. In every other group of people, the media tops Trump, usually by wide margins.

What's more, these numbers haven't changed much all year. Quinnipiac's report showed a trend line, and the latest results are roughly the same as they were in May, which were roughly the same as they were in February.

Trump has persuaded his base not to trust journalists at mainstream outlets, but for everyone else, he's fighting a losing battle.