Relentlessly negative media coverage continues to keep President Trump’s approval ratings at historic lows. This should not be surprising. But now it is virtually provable by connecting the dots on three pieces of data.
First off, it’s necessary to understand that any polls conducted on an issue recently in the news are a complete and direct reflection of the media coverage. So, for instance, when the tax reform proposal was announced, it was covered in normally negative fashion, focusing on the “losers” and on the impact the deficit. Within days, polls of Americans were taken on their view of the tax reform proposal, and with complete predictability result that most were negative about it and concerned about the losers and the deficit. That then was reported as the tax reform being deeply unpopular. Well, duh.
However, on issues that have been around a long time, Americans tend to be able to form their opinions less reflective of media coverage. This is particularly true of issues related to principles.
So it follows that the media coverage of Trump is what is driving his low approvals because it comes as one negative news cycle after another, which builds this unrelentingly negative picture of the Administration. Trump helps the media efforts at times, but the rapidly improving economy after eight years of malaise has made Americans positively giddy over the nation’s economic outlook, and yet they largely disapprove of Trump.
And herein lies the evidence.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll revealed record-high levels of economic optimism among Americans. (That was not the press release lead or the media focus, naturally, but probably the most important component.) Two-thirds of American voters described the state of the nation’s economy as “excellent” or “good” — up from the previous high of 63 percent of voters who said the economy was “excellent” or “good” on Dec. 19. Further, 73 percent of voters told Quinnipiac that they regarded their own financial situations as “excellent” or “good.” That’s almost three out of four on a personal level, which is fantastic.
But the booming economy, with the lowest unemployment rate this century and GDP growth now expected to surpass 4 percent — something not seen since the Bush term — is only perfunctorily covered by the media, and rarely followed up on. Success in getting movement among China’s leaders regarding North Korea and the unification of several Muslim countries in a very loose “common enemy” federation with Israel against Iran and proxies is all but ignored. These would be constant news items for Obama — who, again not surprisingly, had much higher approvals.
When the media reports the positive economic numbers, they find an expert to explain that this is largely leftover from Obama — as though after eight years of a crummy economy, a year after Obama is out of office suddenly his economy is doing great. Is this Trump’s doing? Largely. Remember, businesses make investments and plan forward based on expectations. Under Trump, they are expecting and getting deregulation, tax reform and a better atmosphere for employers and employees to thrive. But the media does not report that concept, ever. Yes, this is basic liberal media bias, but also a strong dose of undiluted Trump hatred.
Almost universally in modern America outside of war time, a strong economy translates into a popular president. That is true of Republican and Democrat presidents. And vice-versa is true.
However, what happens if Americans feel the economic boom, but only and ever hear negative press on a president: Russia, global warming, Twitter, saying a bad word in a meeting or some other nonsense?
First to find an objective measurement of negativity. Thanks to the Pew Research Center, we have one.
Pew found that the initial media coverage of Trump was more than three times more critical than the initial coverage of former President Barack Obama — who, granted, the media fawned over like a little kitten — but also more than twice as negative as Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. That’s a lot of negative input into the American opinion psyche.
So here is the formula: Record negative media coverage defeats record high economic optimism to create record low approvals. Alas, the reality is that the mainstream media is still the dominant force in shaping public opinion.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.
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