A plurality of Republicans responding to a new poll say they want President Trump to have the power to shut down offending media that “engaged in bad behavior.”
Or as Trump has dubbed them, “fake news.”
The survey by Ipsos found 43 percent of Republicans, 21 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats want to give Trump the authority to close down certain news outlets.
The Daily Beast, which was given exclusive access to the polling, said the findings “present a sobering picture for the fourth estate, with respondents showing diminished trust in the media and increased support for punitive measures against its members.”
“They also illustrate the extent to which Trump’s anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion about the role the media plays in covering his administration,” the report claimed.
Of Republican respondents, 36 percent disagreed with “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”
Asked specifically about organizations, 23 percent agreed the president should be able to close down CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Also, 12 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of independents agreed that “the news media is the enemy of the American people.”
“The concept of an enemy press corps has become a staple of Trump’s tweets and public utterances in recent months,” the Beast report said.
Studies show that roughly 90 percent of all reporting on President Trump since he took office has been negative.
The phrase “fake news” has itself become a flashpoint for members of the media. Jim Acosta of CNN recently demanded of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that she contradict her boss.
Acosta, who frequently has berated the White House and Trump administration officials, insisted that Sanders undermine the president’s frequent declarations that establishment media are the “enemy of the people.”
Reporters covering the White House often engage in hostile exchanges in briefings.
“You read off a laundry list of your concerns about the press,” Acosta told Sanders, “and then things that you feel were misreported, but you did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people.
“I think it would be a good thing if you were to state right here at this briefing that the press, the people who are gathered in this room right now, doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials like the ones you brought forward earlier, are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that.”
Not happening, Sanders made clear.
She pointed out that the media set her up for an attack at an annual dinner, she’s been personally maligned and she now is assigned Secret Service protection because of the hostile atmosphere to which the media have contributed.
“The media has attacked me repeatedly,” she said. “When I was hosted by the correspondents’ association you brought up a comedian to attack me. As far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection.”
Huckabee Sanders said the media “continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration and certainly we have a role to play but the media has to role to play for the discourse in this country as well.”
Acosta continued to press Sanders to say what he wanted her to say.
“You did not say in the course of those remarks that you just made that the press is not the enemy of the people. Are we to take it from what you just said, we all get put through the wringer, we all get put through the meat grinder in this town and you’re not an exception and I’m sorry that happened to you. I wish that did not happen,” the CNN reporter said.
“For the sake of this room, for the people in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you are saying and the White House for the United States of America, the president of the United States should not refer to us as enemy of the people? His own daughter acknowledges that and all I’m asking is you acknowledge that right here and right now.”
Sanders responded: “I appreciate your passion. I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his statements clear.”
Her remarks followed by hours an event in Washington in which Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, said she does not believe the media are the enemy of the people.
After the briefing, Acosta took to Twitter to continue berating Sanders.
“Sarah Sanders was repeatedly given a chance to say the press is not the enemy and she wouldn’t do it. Shameful,” he wrote.
The president later said his daughter was right in saying the media are not the enemy. He said it is the “fake news” that is the enemy, and he asserted that makes up a large part of the media.
The Beast reported that members of the press have objected to the phrase, “arguing that it is both wildly inaccurate and deeply dangerous.”
The poll also found only 46 percent said they agreed “most news outlets try their best to produce honest reporting.”
And 72 percent said it should be easier to sue reporters who knowingly publish false information, including 85 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats.