I have a question today, valued readers.
Despite the obvious 24/7 drumbeat of Trump smearings and bashings by most cable channels, some in his own party, and a host of leftist-oriented metropolitan newspapers and television stations, do you feel the president’s base support is actually going stronger with each attack?
President Trump tweeted last week that he believes that’s exactly what’s been happening, despite polls contending his popularity hovers just over 30 percent. As evidence, he cites enormous campaign-era crowds who continue to attend every speech he makes across hinterland America.
Political polling presents a problem of its own making. Following the election where virtually all national polls predicted a Clinton victory, each instead was proven dead wrong. That was not only embarrassing for the polling industry but has left tens of millions of Americans mistrustful of their conclusions much ever since.
The resulting credibility gap doesn’t stop there; not by a long shot.
The Democrat Party and mass media’s decision to dog and demonize every step the 45th president takes without balancing their unified criticism with a smidgen of positives further damages their credibility while polarizing Americans ever deeper into opposing camps.
Painfully frenetic “get Trump at all costs” attacks have been steadily amplifying since the election. And it’s a shame for my craft to watch so much hard-earned trust, buttressed over decades of striving for objectivity and fair play, being squandered on relentlessly pushing one particular political agenda at any cost.
I wonder how many, if any, leaders in the major national media realize and care just how significantly they have lost this valuable trust millions of Americans once placed in them. Believe me, everyone out here clearly sees what’s happening and so many consider the calculated onslaught disgraceful and wrong.
Over my lifetime, a mean-spirited, biased approach to reporting never was taught as acceptable practice in journalism schools. In fact, showing gross biases through selective reporting, word choice, placement and slanted headlines was considered a hallmark of the poorest form of journalism. That’s certainly changed in recent years, hasn’t it?
The one-sided smearings have become so predictable I wonder how many Americans still believe much of anything they read or hear in the national press when it comes to the Trump administration.
As a result, much of the national print and broadcast media have chosen to pit what shreds of popularity they have remaining against that of the president. And many believe the president (who says he is working and trying hard on behalf of the nation rather than satisfying an entrenched political party) is winning any such contest hands-down.
So much credibility has been lost because of this obsessive onslaught on Trump and even his family, it will be difficult if not impossible for millions of Americans to see the mainstream media as little more than protectionists and propagandists for political favorites. For me, endless months of the “Russian interference and collusion” brouhaha is a good example.
Most people I talk to see it as nothing more than a politically contrived and calculated controversy designed to distract long-term from the serious and pressing problems like the economy, national security, terrorism and illegal immigration.
So many folks are flat fatigued from hearing about it, whether the allegations of meetings with Russian officials and hacking our computers are true or not. That sort of behind-the-scenes game has gone on with both sides for decades. Look at our own security agencies’ involvement in South American politics and governments over the years.
Acknowledging such alleged interference that didn’t affect our elections outcome is good. But it’s certainly far from being critical considering the immediate priorities we’re face as a nation.
I know this much. After 46 years practicing this craft in newsrooms across the country, I’ve never witnessed anything even close to what we all are seeing in the way the “news” is shaped and used as a weapon of punishment today.
Is Donald J. Trump a flawless human being? Is he the ideal president? Does he always do what the media and members of his own party think he should do? I’d say no to all those. I see him as an accomplished businessman rather than a career politician driven by a large ego (which president hasn’t been?) who appears to be trying to improve life for Americans rather than undermine our systems.
And I’m by no means saying his official actions shouldn’t be scrutinized. Sure he’s brash, arrogant, often crude or inappropriate and impulsively decisive in his approach to the job. Yet he’s also far more shrewd than the media gives him credit for being. That’s one reason he takes to speaking directly to Americans through often self-damaging tweets, thereby avoiding the mainstream media working so feverishly to destroy him.
Like or despise the man, he is our nation’s elected president who appears to avoid the good ol’ boy way of back-scratching business in the mud puddle known as D.C. If you doubt that, pay attention to those crowds he still draws each time he travels into the hinterland America to speak.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.