A new poll released by Ipsos for The Daily Beast reveals that a plurality of Republicans (along with smaller numbers of Democrats and Independents) think the president of the United States should have the authority to "close news outlets engaged in bad behavior."
What's the story?
The poll, which surveyed 1,003 adults and was conducted Friday through Monday, asked a number of questions about Americans' beliefs concerning press freedom, and got some contradictory remarks.
First, 85 percent of Americans — including majorities of both Republicans and Democrats — agreed with the statement "Freedom of the press is essential for American democracy." A slightly smaller majority (68 percent) agreed with the statement that "reporters should be protected from pressure from government or big business interests."
However, an overall total of 26 percent of respondents — including 43 percent of self-identified Republicans — also agreed with the statement that "the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior." According to The Daily Beast, 21 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats also agreed with this statement.
The poll may have offered some clarification as to what sorts of news outlets respondents may have been thinking of, since only 13 percent of respondents — including 23 percent of Republicans — agreed with the statement that "President Trump should close down mainstream news outlets, like CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times." This suggests that even those who believed the president should have the summary authority to shutter news outlets engaging in "bad behavior," they believe this power should be limited to truly extreme or malicious news outlets.
The poll also showed that the American public's trust in the media continues to erode overall, especially among self-identified Republicans. Overall, only a small plurality (46 percent) indicated that they believe that "most news outlets try their best to produce honest reporting," including a paltry 23 percent of Republicans.
Also, 29 percent of respondents agreed with President Donald Trump's frequent contention that "the news media is the enemy of the American people," including nearly half (48 percent) of Republicans.
Also, the poll revealed that a large majority of Americans — 73 percent — agree with the statement, "it should be easier to sue reporters who knowingly publish false information." This echoes one of Trump's frequent refrains on the 2016 campaign trail, when he promised to look into changing libel laws to make suing reporters easier if he became president.