Voters are nearly split on who they trust more, the Trump administration or the media, according to a new poll released Friday, with a slim plurality having more faith in the president’s officials to “tell the public the truth” than the reporters who cover them.
The Fox News poll found that 45 percent trusted “government officials” under President Donald Trump to tell the public the truth over news outlets. Some 42 percent trusted news outlets over Trump officials, with 10 percent trusting neither.
The results were vastly skewed along partisan lines, with 81 percent of Republicans trusting the administration over the media and 79 percent of Democrats deferring to news organizations over the White House. Twice as many independents trusted the president’s team over the press, 52 percent to 26 percent. Sixteen percent of independents trusted neither.
The poll, which surveyed 1,013 registered voters between Feb. 11 and 13, also found that a majority of voters supported an aggressive media, with 55 percent of those surveyed saying that it’s better for the country if the media “cover the president aggressively.” Some 38 percent felt the press should give Trump the “benefit of the doubt.”
Voters were less split on whether Trump should be more careful with his words, with 71 percent saying he should and 28 percent saying they liked that he “spoke his mind” (1 percent did not know). Among Republicans, 54 percent felt the president should be more cautious when speaking. Some 93 percent of Democrats wished Trump was more judicious.
A large majority of voters also agreed that media scrutiny of Trump has been harsher than that of former President Barack Obama. Sixty-eight percent of participants said coverage of Trump was tougher, with 92 percent of Republicans agreeing. Independents in large also shared that view, with 74 percent agreeing, while only 42 percent of Democrats said coverage of Trump was tougher than that of Obama.
The findings shed some light on the tempestuous relationship between the White House and its press corps, which over the past 48 hours has seen Trump repeatedly lash out reporters and outlets both during his Thursday press conference and on social media. Speaking at the White House Thursday, Trump bluntly told the press, “the public doesn’t believe you people anymore.”