Donald Trump's campaign for the White House has not been friendly to the American model of the press, that old-school approach in which journalists strive to offer balanced, accurate coverage of both sides in public debates and contents.
For starter's, Citizen Trump's approach to debates and to the concept of verifiable facts is a unique one, to say the least. Saying that Trump struggles with logic, truth and facts is something like saying that, for several decades, Hillary Clinton has struggled with basic questions of law, ethics and accountability. #DUH
But let's focus on Trump, as we take a second look at those stunningly depressing Gallup Poll numbers about the public's increasingly acidic view of journalism. Is there a religion -- or moral and social-issues -- angle in there somewhere? That's the question I asked yesterday.
Also, we're going to look at Trump, because that's precisely what CNN did when considering the Gallup numbers. Check out this headline: "Fueled by Republicans, Americans' trust in media hits all-time low."
The report starts out like this, logically enough (in light of that headline):
In a climate of bitter political partisanship, anti-media rhetoric and diversified media options, just 32% of Americans now say they trust the media "to report the news fully, accurately and fairly" -- the lowest level since 1972, when Gallup began polling. ...
While Americans' faith in media has been in decline for over a decade, this year's findings represent a sharp drop from the previous eight years, when between 40 and 45 percent of Americans expressed trust.
The change is largely fueled by the aggressive anti-media rhetoric of Donald Trump and other Republicans, Gallup said.
Ah, saying that Democrats trust the press more than Republicans is something like saying that plants like good soil, sunlight and oxygen. How nice of the network that, in the past, as been known as the Clinton News Network to make that point.
However, the Gallup release did say that and I have no doubt that, if only 14 percent of Republicans say they trust the mainstream media, that Trump's 24/7 attacks on the media played a role in that. He may have knocked those numbers all the way, this year, from 25 percent of GOPers trusting press all the way down to 14 percent.
But what put those numbers in the basement to start with? Some of the Republicans I know who are the most furious with the press, right now, are people who are hardcore #NeverTrump (as well as #NeverHillary). From their perspective, the press gave America the Trump nomination, through waves of free publicity of his each and every loud puff of air.
Trump is the easy angle, in these Gallup results. But the release also had this to say:
The overall decline in trust may be also fueled by "the explosion of the mass media," Gallup said, attributing that to what it called "lower standards for journalism."
"When opinion-driven writing becomes something like the norm, Americans may be wary of placing trust on the work of media institutions that have less rigorous reporting criteria than in the past," Gallup said.
You mean (a) the line is blurring between news and editorial writing, (b) Americans are increasingly choosing editorial products that strengthen their own biases or (c) both?
If that is the case, what are the kinds of stories that tempt reporters to swing over to an advocacy, opinion-driven model of the press? And on those issues, do elite journalists -- say in the top offices of CNN and The New York Times -- tend to lean to the cultural and moral left or the right?
Might this slant have something to do with the low numbers, in general? What say you, Bill Keller, retired editor of the Times? Yes, I'm going to quote this again:
... When it comes to matters of moral and social issues, Bill Keller argues that it's only natural for scribes in the world's most powerful newsroom to view events through what he considers a liberal, intellectual and tolerant lens.
"We're liberal in the sense that ... liberal arts schools are liberal," Keller noted, during a recent dialogue recorded at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. "We're an urban newspaper."
Keller continued: "We are liberal in the sense that we are open-minded, sort of tolerant, urban. Our wedding page includes -- and did even before New York had a gay marriage law -- included gay unions. So we're liberal in that sense of the word, I guess. Socially liberal."
Asked directly if the Times slants its coverage to favor "Democrats and liberals," he added: "Aside from the liberal values, sort of social values thing that I talked about, no, I don't think that it does."
Again let me note the two key words -- "aside" and "from." And what are America's hot-button social issues? Consider this familiar list, as in sex, salvation, abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, cloning and a few other sensitive matters that are inevitably linked to religion.
So so thinks there is a religion angle in these dire Gallup numbers? Just maybe?