Hard as it is to imagine, the mainstream press has grown even more hostile to President Donald Trump during the epochal COVID-19 crisis. Yet Trump’s approval rating is now higher than the sainted Barack Obama at the same point in his presidency. Is the public finally catching on?
Even more unrelenting than the daily death counts and we-are-all-doomed coverage of the coronavirus has been the media’s increasingly hostile – if you can believe that – coverage of Trump during this once-in-a-lifetime crisis. No matter what he does, the press attacks him for it.
Case in point is CBS News’ Paula Reid.
On Tuesday, Reid asked Trump this question: “Mr. President, why haven’t you announced a plan to get 36 million unemployed Americans back to work? You are overseeing historic economic despair. What’s the delay? Where’s the plan?”
This is the same reporter who just six days earlier was complaining that Trump “continues to push to get America back to work even over the objections from his own medical experts.”
The rest of the press corps has been ferociously attacking Trump for pushing to reopen the economy “too soon” with a steady stream of headlines such as:
“Trump Wants to Starve the States Into Opening Before It’s Safe.”
“As Trump urges reopening, thousands getting sick on the job.”
“Trump Foments Anti-Restriction Protests, Alarming Governors.”
Over the past few months, the press has attacked Trump for being too optimistic, for being too abrasive, for taking medications they don’t approve of. They attacked Trump for being a wannabe dictator, and for being too deferential to states. They alleged that Trump wants to “normalize” coronavirus deaths. They speculated that Trump is alienating seniors.
The Media Research Center looked at front-page Washington Post stories in the first four months of the year and found that negative stories about the Trump administration’s response outweighed positive ones by 25-to-1.
In contrast, the press has largely ignored the disaster in New York’s nursing homes, where thousands of seniors died after the sainted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered them to take in seniors even if they tested positive for coronavirus. The media have also largely ignored China’s – and its mouthpieces at the World Health Organization’s – role in the global spread of the disease. The MRC found that less than 1% of the networks’ coronavirus coverage could be deemed unflattering to China.
And yet, as the media barrage intensified, Trump’s approval ratings have climbed.
In fact, the latest Gallup tracking poll finds that 49% approve of the job Trump is doing, which is two points higher than Obama’s approval rating at the same point in his first term.
The Real Clear Politics average had Trump at 46% on May 18, which except for a brief moment in March, is the highest it’s been since he took office. Obama’s was at 48% at this point.
Could it be that the public is starting to notice that the attacks on Trump are often ill-founded, and that it’s more interested in seeing the country successfully deal with coronavirus crisis?
The latest McLaughlin & Associates suggest the answer is yes. It found that among voters who regularly watched Trump’s task force briefings, “59% to 37% say that the media is unfair, biased, and disrespectful.”
This isn’t to say that Trump’s handling of the outbreak has been perfect. We would have preferred that he’d listened more to his gut – and less to the “experts” who were predicting 2 million deaths – and urged calm rather than ordering economically disastrous lockdowns. We aren’t thrilled that his willingness to spend fantastic amounts of money on “stimulus” programs has only whetted the appetite of the left.
But isn’t a crisis a time when the country is supposed to rally around its leaders? No wonder the public’s trust in the media is below that of snake oil salesmen.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board