Distrusting The Media

Trump has now declared that “Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people…” In short, any media story or outlet that criticizes him or the actions of his administration is an “enemy of the people.”

Trump is far from the first sitting president to be savaged by the media. Thomas Jefferson loathed newspapers, and he observed that the mass of people “have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper.” At the same time he fervently believed in a free press, stating that: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Benjamin Franklin stated, “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech.”

On the other side of the coin, in 1914 the German author Reinhold Anton coined the term “Lugenpresse” [lying press] to refer to enemy propaganda. Twenty years later Adolph Hitler resurrected the term in his attacks on the press. Hitler also stated, “It is the press, above all, which wages a positively fanatical and slanderous struggle, tearing down everything which can be regarded as a support of national independence, cultural elevation, and the economic independence of the nation.”

Trump has taken, whether inadvertently or deliberately, the propaganda strategy adopted by Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. As Goebbels stated, “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.” Goebbels also said, “…the rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious.” In addition, he pointed out, “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

In something like two years Trump has raised the public distrust of the press to a level where, depending on the poll, between forty and seventy percent of Americans distrust the news media.

Last month, a poll from Axios found that seventy-two percent of Americans believe “traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false, or purposely misleading.”

A Gallup poll released this week found that 44% of the national sample polled found the news inaccurate and 62% stated that it was biased. Interestingly enough, the poll also found that just 48% of Republicans say they use fact-checking websites when they encounter information they suspect is false, compared with 72% of both independents and Democrats.

So… is this just a phase, or does Trump intend to destroy faith in the news media or his own ends? And do most Americans really care?

12 thoughts on “Distrusting The Media”

  1. Tim says:

    Biased or not, the press and broadcasting services are certainly selective in what they publish and for how long.

    After all the brouhaha on Ukraine and then Syria I cannot remember when I last bombarded by the BBC on these conflicts. It is if they never happened.

    I feel I am treated like a spectator in the Colosseum – waiting for the next exciting gladiatorial combat, forgetting the last one.

    1. Rehcra says:

      By not bombarding you with selective coverage they are selecting what they cover.That is a asinine statement that your example would prove true no matter what its results happen to be.

      Your right, its just stupid and has no greater meaning.


  2. Tom says:

    Selection has to occur because no one outlet can cover all the news.

    The more interesting is the selection of what is covered about any specific news event (not just how it is presented). So I spend time looking at news from around the world about a specific news event and from several points of view; including at times Pravda, Xinhua, and even Fox.

    It is indeed stupid that I have to do that to come close to guessing what is really happening in the world.

    Distrusting the media is as necessary now as when the Acta Diurna rumour about Antony’s will got put out by Octavian.

  3. rehcra says:

    The analogy i would use would be “The boy who cried Wolf.”

    but here the boy is just pointing out dogs and wolfs, And a wolf is complaing about how he is just a dog and half of the people are like ‘so what I like wolfs’. And the other half are like even if he is a dog he doesn’t have his tags and should be picked up by the dog catcher. And I guess some how the dog becomes Mayor or something. Oh, and the Dog/Wolf Mayor fires the dog catcher and I guess might be working for a pride of lions the whole time or is a lion or clearly isn’t a lion…. And everyone agrees its the boy’s fault.

    But other than that its a perfect anology.


  4. R. Hamilton says:

    We should never trust ANYONE we don’t know personally, and not even them beyond what they’ve earned and kept up with very rare lapses.

    And yes, media have to select. But when they start with an agenda, and select to reinforce it, comment to advance it, and ignore as long as possible anything that contradicts it, that’s a problem. One side does that far more than the other.

  5. Matthew Newman says:

    You are correct, the Right does do that far more than the Left, particularly Hannity, Dobbs and Carlson. Thanks for the confirmation R.

  6. M. Kilian says:

    Ah yes, comparing somebody you don’t agree with to the notorious Hitler. Because any person who believes that the present-day state of American News companies are no longer the embodiment of “free press” is actually a neo-nazi (or perhaps a russian bot?).

    It is exactly statements like this that have polarised people so effectively, more than just the old conservatives versus liberals branding. Daring to have a different opinion about the state of anything is a thought crime.

    Meanwhile the alphabet news companies continuously degrade emerging independent news sources as being the “fake news” Trump has accused them of being, trying to help suppress any the free flow of information between individuals whose incomes are not directly tied to a news conglomerate.

    The irony.

    1. Whether I agree with Trump’s politics or not, he’s using exactly the same playbook that Hitler did.

      1. M. Kilian says:

        If we get a night of the long knives 2.0 I’ll harken to such a call. Being unable to criticise the corporations that make the news and media their financial business without being likened to a plethora of nasty labels makes a man worried, however. Are they truly above reproach?

        1. The media has never been above reproach, but using the power of the presidency to single out only those who disagree with you is even worse.

  7. Tom says:

    Only a controlled media would have an ‘agenda’. The individual reporters would have the ‘bias’. The polarization of any social group is caused by the leader(s) and not the media, who do bear responsibility for re-enforcement and maintaining often pointless continuance. This is what Goebbels etc. realized and made use of.

  8. When it comes to Brexit and Trump it’s clear that the BBC are very biased against both. As I make a particular study of Brexit I can tell you that some 90% of coverage given to Brexit by the BBC is anti-Brexit. The BBC are a public broadcasting corporation and is meant to be neutral in their reporting which it is clearly not and yet the British people have to pay a license fee to view it.

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