“Better to get your news directly from the president,” Republican congressman Lamar Smith said last month. “In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.”
You may call that sentiment Orwellian, but nine out of ten Republicans would call it common sense: A new poll from Emerson College finds 90 percent of Republicans believe that the Trump administration is “truthful” — while less than 10 percent say the same about the news media.
By contrast, 77 percent of Democrats believe the Trump White House is “untruthful,” while 69 percent think the news media generally tells the truth. Independents tend to think they’re all a bunch of liars, with 52 percent calling the administration untruthful and 47 percent calling the media the same.
Republicans’ nearly unanimous trust in the Trump White House — and contempt for the Fourth Estate — means that, on the whole, voters have more faith in the president: Forty-nine percent call the Trump administration truthful, 48 percent say the opposite; for the media, those numbers are 39 and 53, respectively.
Ultimately, these results are probably more dismaying for journalists than they are encouraging for Trump. Overwhelming trust from self-identified Republicans is nice, but majority distrust from independents is not.
Trump would not have won in November without the support of voters who said they didn’t like him. Nothing in Emerson’s poll — or in the latest Gallup survey — suggests Trump is broadening his base of support. Maybe being less hated than the other candidate will work again in 2020. But that’s not the kind of support most presidents would want to count on.