It appears that many Republican voters share President Donald Trump’s disdain for the media.

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Majority of GOP voters think courts should fine media outlets for bias

This goes far beyond President Trump's attacks on 'fake news.'


Andrew Wyrich


Posted on Jul 26, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 10:40 pm CDT

It appears that many Republican voters think President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media don’t go far enough.

A recent poll by YouGov and the Economist found that 55 percent of Republicans believe “the courts” should have the power to fine news outlets for publishing or broadcasting stories that are found to be biased or inaccurate. Only 12 percent of Republicans polled opposed the idea.

On the same question, 23 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of independents favored the idea. A quarter of Democrats and 21 percent of independents opposed the idea.

The notion of fining the press for such articles appeared to be most favorable among richer Americans—with 37 percent of people with a family income over $100,000 saying it was a good idea.

Media outlets, as well as individual journalists, can be successfully sued for a range of violations, including publishing defamatory statements and violating people’s privacy rights. Gawker was famously forced to shut down, for example, after Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, won a $100 million lawsuit against the publication for a range of infractions, including intentional efforts to inflict emotional distress, for its publishing of a sex tape.

This weeks poll is yet another indication that the idea of an open and free press—a critical component of democracy enshrined in the U.S. Constitution—is eroding.

Trump’s constant attacks on the free press seem to be taking a hold among his supporters. A separate poll, by Pew Research Center, found that less than half of Republicans support the media’s role as a watchdog for politicians.

Over the last several months, journalists have been arrested for asking questions, pinned against a wall, arrested while covering protests, body slammed by politicians, and even had government officials joke about shooting them.

Trump’s repeated blasting of the media is meant to send a jolt into his supporters, and it appears to be working. In the past, the president has called the press the “enemy of the American people,” “scum,” “lying, disgusting people,” “sleazebags,” “very dishonest,”  “out of touch,” “terrible,” and more.

YouGov and the Economist polled 1,500 adults from July 23 to July 25. The results have a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

H/T NY Mag

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 26, 2017, 4:40 pm CDT