Americans might not think Donald Trump should be president. But they sure think he’s gotten an unfair shake from the media.
Two new polls show 1) that many and even most Americans think the media is biased against Trump, and 2) that it has been significantly easier on Hillary Clinton.
A new Quinnipiac poll shows fully 55 percent of likely voters say the media is “biased against Donald Trump.” Just 42 percent disagreed.
Similarly, a Fox News poll asked likely voters whether they thought coverage of both Trump and Clinton was fair, too positive or too negative. The poll found 43 percent of the respondents thought the media has been too negative on Trump, while just 11 percent said the same of Clinton. And while just 5 percent say the media coverage of Trump has been too positive, 27 percent say the same of Clinton.
These numbers may not seem all that surprising. The Republican Party and its leader have for years, after all, argued that the “liberal media” is biased against them. And the “nasty” media rigging the election against him has become a drumbeat of Trump’s public campaign events.
But it’s worth noting in this Quinnipiac poll that even non-Trump backers and many non-Republicans believe this to be true. Six in 10 independents (61 percent) say the media is biased against Trump, as do 20 percent of Democrats. This clearly goes beyond GOP-leaning voters.
The Fox poll also shows the perception is hardly just a GOP thing. It shows 46 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats say the media has been too negative on Trump.
It’s also worth noting that Democrats have very few countervailing complaints about coverage of their candidate. Despite a long-running narrative among top Clinton backers that the media was too soft on Trump — enabling him to win the GOP primary — and too hard on Clinton for her use of a private email server, that view is not at all widely shared.
Just 17 percent of Democrats think coverage of Clinton has been too negative, according to the Fox poll, and many more independents say coverage of Clinton has been too positive (34 percent) as say it’s been too negative (10 percent).
It’s worth emphasizing here that this could all be in part a reaction to an onslaught of bad press for Trump. Perhaps perceptions of the media’s coverage were more balanced before the “Access Hollywood” video came out, followed by the flood of women accusing Trump of unwanted sexual advances.
But it’s also clear that when Trump blames the media for his impending loss, a huge share of Americans will have at least some sympathy — perhaps even a majority. And when it comes to restoring trust in an institution that has lost it in spades in recent decades and has been replaced as a news source by many right-leaning Americans, that’s not a good thing.