By Rod Thomson
Gallup’s most recent comparison poll for whether Americans think they are better off or worse off than four years earlier, going back to the first time Gallup asked the question, is nothing short of shocking.
Gallup’s chart compares President Trump’s rating to previous presidents at the end of their first terms and shows him at 56 percent. Obama was 45 percent; George W. Bush was 47 percent; Bill Clinton was 38 percent and Ronald Reagan was 44 percent.
So Trump’s is the highest rating, by far. No other president was even all that close to 50 percent. And this, in the midst of a pandemic that none of the others had to deal with. It’s a truly astonishing poll result.
But it presents quite a quandary. How do we square these enormously positive results with the President’s low approval ratings and the polls showing Biden way ahead? They don’t seem as though they should exist in the same universe.
There are more numbers doubling down on this quandary. Polls show strong public disapproval of Trump’s handling of coronavirus. Yet polls in New York State show strong public approval of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the virus in that state — which was ground zero in the world at one point and an undeniable disaster, pulling down the rest of the nation.
One possible reconciliation of this is that Trump’s personality is off-putting to many Americans and that colors their views of him. He does indeed create a lot of unforced errors through his undisciplined communications style. That alone seems like quite a stretch to cover either of these numbers, particularly handling the virus vis-a-vis Cuomo, who is not a particularly likeable politician.
Finally quandary number, Gallup also asked, “Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with [Trump or Biden] on the issues that mean most to you.” Forty-nine percent said they agreed with Trump on their most important issues, while 46 percent said the same thing of Biden. That would seem to largely bypass the personality question.
So what to make of these vigorously conflicting numbers? Set aside problematic polling for some Trump supporters who may not tell a pollster the truth, I think the only consistent answer explaining all of them is the media coverage of Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden.
Any litany of the partisanized coverage would take a series of books. Let’s just take the white supremacy issue attached to Trump and not to Biden. (This matters a lot — and that it does, is further proof we are not a racist nation — so that really may influence the polls on voting.)
Trump continues to be smeared as a supporter of white supremacists, and as one himself, because they support him and he won’t denounce them. The most cited evidence is the “very fine people” in the Charlottesville incident. This is so ingrained in media thinking that Chris Wallace asked Trump about it at the first presidential debate.
But none of it is actually true. Quite demonstrably not true. He denounced white supremacists repeatedly in the very Charlottesville press conference, and the “very fine people” remark was in reference to the statues issue. Every person who has listened to the press conference or read the official transcript has had to admit that. Politico has the whole messy transcript here. Factcheck has debunked it. Even Jake Tapper admitted it. But anyone can just see it themselves without relying on dubious third-parties.
Further, there is video evidence of Trump denouncing white supremacy something like 20 different times — before Wallace asked him to. This includes interviews with people like NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet The Press — kind of hard to miss. This video shows 20 times Trump has disavowed white supremacy, white nationalism, the KKK and so on. To quote Trump, “It’s never enough.” Which was proven when Wallace still asked it as if trying to pin an elusive Trump down on this, and people believe the lie.
Conversely, Joe Biden has a pretty dicey record of racist remarks and actions. Did you know that Joe Biden actually called the United Daughters of the Confederacy “an organization made up of many fine people who continue to display the Confederate flag as a symbol.” Well now.
Too many Americans who will vote do not even know that Joe Biden supported segregationists, was the primary driver behind the now-controversial three-strikes law that led to heavy black incarceration and told a black interviewer that “you ain’t black” if you don’t vote for Biden, and so many other remarks in between.
The coup de grace of the media shield for Biden is that the organizer of the Charlottesville rally was Richard Spencer, an openly proud white supremacist. But Spencer has actually endorsed Joe Biden for president. Did you know that? Most people don’t — and never will. Biden will never be asked about it.
Biden is never confronted on this actual, factual, documented racist history, while Trump is tagged with it over and over no matter what he says or does. Americans don’t think Biden is a racist. But they think Trump is despite the available evidence.
Will the media ever contrast Trump’s expanded funding of Historically Black Colleges, historic low unemployment and wage growth for black Americans under Trump or Trump’s prison reform that will allow more minor offenders to be freed for rehabilitation to Biden’s bill that resulted in “mass incarceration” or the higher black unemployment and slower wage growth during the Obama-Biden years? Will they ask Biden why he thinks more black Americans say they support Trump than any Republican in modern history?
No, on all of the above. Because asking a candidate, regardless of the answer, sets it in people’s minds. So Trump is asked about a lie over and over, and Biden is never asked about the truth — such as his intervention in Ukraine or his administration’s role in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. He’ll never be asked by the media shield.
And so the divergence of polls. So voters who know they are better off, like what Trump has done and is doing and even approve of his job performance, say they will not vote for him. Because they believe and are moved by the media’s portrait.
The divergence itself is one of the most telling signs of both the media’s bias and the media’s influence. Trump has done a remarkable job for the American people and they know it in their lives. They understand the pandemic is what tanked the economy, and it’s global. But the picture painted to the American people is Trump is a terrible, racist human being.
Rod Thomson is an author, former journalist, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Like Rod on Facebook.