During a week that included pipe bombs set to prominent liberals and Democrats and an anti-Semitic mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Americans said the media was more divisive than President Donald Trump.
A new Morning Consult/Politico poll published Thursday found that 64 percent of Americans — 80 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of independents — believe the national media has done more to divide than unite the country since Trump took office. Just over half, 56 percent (including 88 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents), said the same of Trump.
The poll was conducted between October 25 and October 30, at the height of news coverage of the pipe bombs and the Pittsburgh shooting. It was released shortly after Trump slammed the news media once again for their “inaccurate, and even fraudulent” reporting, calling them the “true Enemy of the People” on Twitter.
Amid questions about whether Trump’s rhetoric was to blame for the violence, the White House has been doubling down on blaming the media. In a briefing Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump’s rhetoric, saying he won’t stop his attacks on his opponents and that it’s irresponsible for news media to “not just blame the president, but blame members of his administration for those heinous acts.”
“The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country,” Trump tweeted in the evening of October 28, a mere 24 hours after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and days after the pipe bomb threats targeting prominent Democrats. “Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!”
There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2018
It’s hard to say how much Trump’s most recent rhetoric about the media influenced these responses, since some respondents might have answered before it happened. But the responses suggest that many Americans are willing to believe the media is responsible for divisions in the country.
The poll also found voter enthusiasm to be high in the days leading up to the election, with 85 percent of the poll respondents saying they are motivated to cast a ballot in the upcoming midterms, a number that’s remained stable since September.