One-Third Of Americans Agree With President Trump That Media Is 'Enemy' Of The People

trump and the media
Many Americans agree with President Trump that the media is the "enemy" of the people. ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images

This isn't fake news: Fewer people now believe that the media is the "enemy of the people," despite a prolonged anti-press campaign by President Donald Trump.

Still, 31 percent believe the media isn't serving the public—though that number is down from a high of 39 percent shortly after the president took office earlier this year.

It is more important than ever for journalists to aide "in creating a shared understanding of reality across the political divide," authors of the study said.

The news is not all good for media companies, however. About 44 percent of people surveyed by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies said that the media fabricates stories about the president. And 25 percent of Americans believe there should be harsh limitation on the press that would allow the government to block stories that officials rule "biased or inaccurate."

"Democrats with high political knowledge say they have the most faith in the press, Republicans with high political knowledge are the most distrustful of the media — more so than Republicans with low political knowledge," the study found.

The poll comes after a continued assault on the so-called "fake news" media by Trump, including his famous February 17 tweet, "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

In other findings, the Poynter poll revealed:

* Just under 50 percent of the survey's 2,100 participants have a "great deal" of confidence in the media, up one point from when a similar question was asked by another polling firm in October.

* Views on the media still vary greatly by party affiliation. In the new survey, 19 percent of Republicans had a "great deal" or "fair amount" of trust in the media, versus 74 for Democrats.

* From the 44 percent who believe the media fabricates stories about Trump, 24 percent believe media reports fake news "about half of the time" and 6 percent believe it happens "all of the time."

The media has, at times, been its own enemy in earning the public's trust, allowing Trump to exploit that weakness. Over this weekend, ABC News suspended correspondent Brian Ross after a botched report about former national security adviser Michael Flynn—a mistake Trump heralded in a Saturday tweet.

Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the Russia, Russia, Russia Witch Hunt. More Networks and “papers” should do the same with their Fake News!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017

Participants in the survey did not only consume media that confirmed their worldview—a common misperception, said one of the study's authors—but simply don't fully trust what they read.

"Based on the news sources people visit, there seems to be a lot more overlap in the information they encounter than the echo chambers narrative would suggest," said Andrew Guess of Princeton. "It's possible ... people who see plenty of news from across the ideological spectrum ... simply don't believe it.

The results do not only reflect the conflicts of the hyper-partisan Trump era. Public trust and confidence in the press has been in steadily dropping for almost 40 years. In 1979, a little over 70 percent of people had confidence in the news media compared to 31 percent in 2017, the Poynter Institute survey showed.