According to a new poll, a majority of people under 35 believe President Trump encourages violence toward journalists.
The NowThis/PredictWise survey was conducted five days after Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) for physically assaulting a reporter who asked him a question about health care, calling Gianforte “my kind of guy.” Poll respondents included 750 people aged 18 to 34 and 750 adults older than 35. Asked if Trump encourages violence against members of the press, 57 percent of the younger group said yes. Overall, 41 percent of respondents expressed that view.
The results were starkly partisan: 71 percent of Democrats said Trump encouraged violence against the press, compared to 17 percent of Republicans.
Trump has repeatedly called the press “the enemy of the people” and critical stories about his administration “fake news.” He has tweeted images showing CNN reporters being assaulted: In one, Trump is shown punching a man who has the CNN logo superimposed on his face. In another, a CNN reporter is about to be run over by a train.
Last January, a man was arrested by federal authorities after threatening a mass shooting at CNN, which he called “fake news” in threatening phone calls.
The poll was conducted before this week’s news that at least 14 packages containing pipe bombs were sent to CNN and to prominent Democrats, including former President Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
This afternoon, a suspect in the bombings, Cesar Sayoc, was arrested in Florida. Police impounded his van, whose windows were covered with pro-Trump stickers, along with images of Trump riding a tank, prominent Democrats with targets on their faces and a sign that read “CNN Sucks.”
Shortly after the arrest, Trump addressed the conservative Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House. During his remarks, a member of the audience shouted, “CNN sucks!” Trump smiled and pointed.
Later, asked by reporters on the White House lawn if he would tone down his rhetoric, Trump said “Tone down? No. I could really tone it up. I think the media has been very, very unfair to me.”
Trump’s animosity toward the media has been described as ironic by a number of observers of politics and journalism, who note that Trump became a household name through fawning media coverage. A syrupy 1976 profile in the New York Times introduced him to the public; New York City tabloid coverage of his divorces and dating made him a household name in the ’80s and ’90s; in the same era, he phoned media outlets, masquerading as his own publicist to plant stories about himself. The current president of CNN, Jeff Zucker, was the head of NBC Entertainment who ordered Trump’s hit reality show The Apprentice in 2004, familiarizing Trump to post-millennial audiences and voters. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Zucker’s CNN frequently aired Trump’s bombastic rallies and speeches without commentary or fact-checking.