Michaela Bush, Colomnist
President Trump has been in office for about a month, and he and the media continue to run in circles around each other. Claims of “fake news” have been flying back and forth in a muckraking storm from both sides. Let’s take a look at some of the most recent examples:
First of all, an MSNBC host (Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the show “Morning Joe”), said offhandedly that “while unemployment and the economy worsens, he [President Trump] could have undermined the messaging so much that he could actually control exactly what people think—and that is our [the media’s] job.” It’s the media’s job to control what people think—that’s what she said, exactly. Now, whether she said that in jest or if she actually meant it is another question.
Philly.com’s The Inquirer wrote on Sept. 16, 2016 that Philadelphia’s homicide rate was going up. However, when Trump mentioned that the murder rate was ‘terribly increasing,’ they wrote an article on Jan. 26, 2017 that the murder rate was not going up.
Two different headlines on CNN come up to question—one on CNN Politics, in which someone explained that “No, the presidential election can’t be hacked” (Oct. 19, 2016) –but on a CNN Opinion article written Dec. 10, 2016 asks, “Where’s the outrage over Russia’s hack of the US election?” (The hack of course had not yet been confirmed or denied even during the remainder of former President Obama’s time in office; therefore, assuming and writing that Russia did indeed hack the election results is pretty much the same as what they accuse Trump of doing.)
Additionally from CNN, one article called his Feb. 16 press conference “An amazing moment in history” (Stephen Collinson, Feb. 16, 2017). The next article stated that Trump “attacked media in [a] lengthy, combative press conference” (Dylan Byers, Feb. 16) and cut out the rest of the press conference, focusing on the “condemnation” of the media. This is exactly what Trump predicted in the press conference: He said, and I quote, “Tomorrow, they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press…I’m just telling you….I’m having a good time doing it. But tomorrow, the headlines are going to be, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves. I’m not ranting and raving.’”
He was absolutely right, except for the fact that the articles started coming out that evening—not the next day. He also mentioned his frustrations with the tone in which many of the articles are written towards him. That is true – look through some of the most popular news outlets and read what they had to say about the press conference. They’ll say that he was vicious (which, yes, he did go back and forth quite a lot, but at the same time, I saw a lot of journalists cutting off the president and trying to talk over him, which is quite disrespectful regardless of who you are), that he was anti-Semitic, even spreading fake news of his own during the press conference. However, what they don’t mention—and what you will see if you watch the full press conference rather than just the “highlights”, is that at some points, Trump was actually joking around with the journalists, praising their abilities as journalists, and trying to explain how they could improve—ending with the statement that “If you were straight and really told it like it is, as Howard Cosell used to say, right?…if you go—you’re CNN, I mean it’s story after story after story [that is] bad….you’ve got to be at least a little bit fair and that’s why the public sees it. They see…it’s not fair. You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred. And the public is smart, they understand it.” It’s apparent that a disconnect is happening somewhere –but the big question is who we’re supposed to trust or believe as the public.
Additionally, several news outlets—including Time—said that a majority of people (53 percent) disapprove of Trump, according to a CNN/ORC poll released at the beginning of February. They also suggested that he had historically high disapproval ratings. However, a new Rasmussen poll suggested that the approval rating, closer to the time of his press conference, was at 55 percent. If 53 percent disagree and 55 percent agree with Trump,we have a problem. 53 plus 55 does not equal 100 percent, and as a recent math textbook of mine suggested, if a percentage of something totals over 100 percent, the person [in retail, in this example] is trying to lie to you. Obviously, we can’t have over half of the U.S. population agree with Trump and over half of the U.S. population disagree with Trump. I could understand 50 to 50, but not something that, when added up, totals 108 percent. Since there’s such a disconnect, we’ll look at Pew Research’s approval rating roundup, which took 11 different polls and compared them.
As of Feb.16, President Trump’s approval rating varied between 39 percent and 53 percent. Fox News placed him at 48 percent among all registered voters; Rasmussen (on Feb. 11) at 52 percent among likely voters; Gallup as of Feb. 11 set him at 40 percent of all adults. Politico’s was set as 49 percent among registered voters. There was no mention of CNN’s poll (which brings some questions to mind about their accuracy). Obviously, the audience and the population surveyed will sway the results of a survey.
I would write on Trump’s own spreading of ‘fake news’, but as reports of that come directly from news sources—many of which I’ve mentioned in this article—I’m not going to say anything either way about it. I’m putting it up to you, reader, to critically consider what media sources you consider and rely upon for news. Through this you ought to come up with your own ideas of fact and fiction; biased or unbiased; truth or lies. Don’t fall into the trap of believing one specific source or person above all things, and don’t pull the wool over your own eyes so you ignore one side’s arguments entirely.
This is a pretty loaded question, but I hope you take it into consideration and contemplate it: who do you trust the most for accurate information, the POTUS or the media, and why?