The Buzz is the Register’s weekly political news column.
Readers have accused me of partisanship since I first wrote about politics more than three decades ago, with attacks coming from all sides depending on the issue. But the vitriol since Donald Trump was elected is unprecedented.
Apparently, it’s not just me.
Americans have a far more partisan view of the press than any time in at least 30 years, according to a Pew Research Center report out this month.
President Trump declared that the “media … is the enemy of the American people” in February and many supporters share that disdain. Pew found an all-time low of 42 percent of Republicans think the media is an effective political watchdog. Republicans also expressed little trust in the press and were far more likely than Democrats to see news organizations as partisan.
Meanwhile, Democrats posted an all-time high on the media’s watchdog role, with 89 percent saying the media “keeps political leaders from doing things that should not be done.” Pew began asking the question in 1985.
The 47-point gap between Republicans and Democrats is a dizzyingly dramatic swing from just 15 months ago, when 77 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats said the media was an effective watchdog.
The party that controls the White House tends to have a less favorable view of the press than the opposing party, according to historical data from Pew. That’s because the president is the subject of intense press scrutiny, which often focuses on the negative and controversial aspects of an administration.
Over the past year, the partisan divide over whether the media is trustworthy has also grown — although neither party’s sentiments are likely to stir pride among journalists.
Asked how much they trusted the national media, 34 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of Republicans said “a lot.” In early 2016, it was 27 percent of Democrats and 15 percent of Republicans.
On the subject of media…