An opinion poll shows that more Americans believe what President Trump says than what they read in the media. It's just that in the era of fake news, being asked to choose between believing certain newspapers and politicians is akin to being asked to choose between death by drowning or burning.The opinion poll found that 45 per cent of Americans were more likely to trust President Trump to tell the truth than the media. A mere 42 per cent trusted the media over President Trump.
But when you think about it, this finding should surprise no one. President Trump may be down in the popularity ratings, but the fact is, some people like him, some people are ardent supporters. Very few of us would say we trust all the media. It's the same in the UK.
A Trump or Farage supporter may distrust what they read in the Guardian or New York Times, a more moderate Brit or American may distrust the Daily Mail, or the Murdoch media such as Fox News. But it is surely the case that left and right are united in a mutual hatred of parts of the media, they merely diverge on which parts of the media they detest.
The real shock finding from the Fox poll is that a mere 10 per cent said they trusted neither Trump nor the media.
The US president was presumably being ironic, (or is that sardonic?) when he described the BBC as another beauty. His decision to ban certain media, including the Guardian, the New York Times, Politico, CNN, BuzzFeed, the BBC, and the Daily Mail does indeed elicit thoughts about Nazis. Indeed, for that matter the President's own press secretary, Sean Spicer once said that only dictators banned media access to public information. It does not help the media try to reveal truth in regimes around the world where truth is such a scarce commodity. For example Rob Mahoney, deputy executive director of the CPJ, told the Guardian that President Trump's media approach did not help its "work trying to deal with countries like Turkey, Ethiopia or Venezuela, where you have governments who want to do nothing more than to silence and intimidate the press.”
But then again, truth and media reporting do not always go hand in hand. There is a reason why new Wikipedia entries or updates can no longer cite the Daily Mail as a source.
Or take http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/771863/Pensions-EU-migration-economic-catastrophe-cost-Brexit this extraordinary article from a recent edition of the Daily Express arguing that immigration costs the UK economy £30 billion a year, without so much as an attempt to refer to the enormous weight of evidence from highly respectable academics showing that immigration has boosted the UK economy. In an age when the dangerous and highly divisive forces of nationalism threaten to recreate the conditions that led to the last world war, how do these 'alternative facts' count as responsible journalism?
In an age when we are no more than a ten-minute Google search away from corroborating any statement that purports to be a fact, we see the triumph of emotional arguments over facts, mistruths and downright lies. Practices that pander to this, whether they originate from the White House or media, are the true enemies of the people.