Search This Blog

Monday, December 4, 2017

"You're Fake News!"

During the Trump presidency, the United States has witnessed unprecedented attacks on the press from the highest office in the land. It is essential to understand how these attacks have affected attitudes toward the press. This report presents results of a public opinion and behavioral study designed to gauge the public’s support for the media in these difficult times. Encouragingly, we find that the public supports the press, albeit weakly. However, this result masks dramatic polarization in media attitudes. Specifically, we show that Republicans and Trump supporters have far more negative attitudes toward the press than Democrats and Trump opponents, especially among respondents with high levels of political knowledge. Republicans and Trump supporters are also far more likely to endorse extreme claims about media fabrication, to describe journalists as an enemy of the people, and to support restrictions on press freedom. These differences in media attitudes are reflected in polarized information diets on our behavioral measures, though to a lesser extent than people’s self-reports of the outlets they read suggest. Finally, we show that exposure to anti-media messages, including an attack by Trump on “fake news,” have relatively limited effects on attitudes toward the press.