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Trump's effort to be the sole authority for truth hits a snag

Donald Trump wants voters to see news organizations as "the enemy." The American mainstream isn't buying it, but Republican voters are.
Image: US-TRUMP-POLITICS
Donald Trump speaks at a "get-out-the-vote" rally on December 9, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
One of the hallmarks of Donald Trump's young presidency is his effort to position himself as the sole authority for truth. Since taking office, the Republican has urged Americans to not only follow his lead, but also to reject information from those who might get in his way.Americans have been told, don’t trust the courts. Don’t trust pollsters. Don’t trust U.S. intelligence agencies. Don’t trust unemployment numbers. Don’t even trust election results.And perhaps most importantly, don't trust news organizations. The president has described himself as being in a "war" with American media, which he's characterized as "the enemy" of the American public.As the Washington Post noted, the people Trump is trying to convince don't seem especially persuaded by the attacks.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University suggests that while people may be broadly unhappy with the mainstream media, they still think it's more credible than Trump. The president regularly accuses the press of "fake news," but people see more "fake news" coming out of his own mouth.The poll asked who registered voters "trust more to tell you the truth about important issues." A majority — 52 percent — picked the media. Just 37 percent picked Trump.

What's more, according the poll results, 61% of the public also disapproves of the way the president talks about the media."The media, so demonized by the Trump Administration, is actually a good deal more popular than President Trump," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said.There is, however, a catch.Trump has asked Americans to see the media as an enemy to hold in contempt, and the American mainstream clearly disagrees. But much of the president's Republican base is actually on board with his anti-journalism crusade.As the Washington Post's Greg Sargent noted, a majority of Americans trust news organizations, not Trump, to tell the public the truth, but among self-identified GOP voters, the dynamic is flipped: a whopping 78% of Republicans trust the reality-challenged president, not the American media.For many, one of the mysteries of contemporary political life is understanding how anyone, anywhere, would trust a president who lies as frequently and as brazenly as Donald Trump, and poll results like these offer useful insights. When Trump intentionally deceives the public, it falls to news organizations to help Americans separate fact from fiction.Many Republicans, however, have been convinced -- over the course of many years -- that the media is part of some elaborate ideological scheme to mislead voters. GOP partisans are given a choice between trusting a president with a truth allergy and independent journalistic institutions, and for many Republicans, that's apparently an easy, albeit wrong, call.On balance, the White House's "war" with the press isn't going as well as the president would like, but Trump has nevertheless won over the faction he considers important.