Image: Wikimedia Image: Wikimedia

President Trump accuses the media of lying, of peddling fake news. Should we believe him, or the media?

The US President recently tweeted that the media is the enemy of the people: echoing a Daily Mail headline from last Autumn reporting on three judges who ruled that the UK government could not kick-off Article 50 without Parliament's ratification.

To some, the claim that the media, with the likes of CNN, New York Times and the BBC, are advancing false news is just beyond the pale: it's like being accused of being a racist by Marine Le Pen. Yet it was President Trump who said certain people in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11 even though no one has been able to find a shred of evidence to back-up the claim. It was a Presidential candidate Trump who was reported to have said something that was outright wrong 13 times in a TV debate with Hillary Clinton, who was, by contrast wrong twice in the same debate.

But his record as a businessman is not, and let's put it tactfully, without controversy. Take as an example, a case in the 1980s when a court judged that Mr Trump had filed a 'spurious' lawsuit to harass a tenant to vacate a building. Or take as an example when a judge said there was strong evidence that Trump and his employees had employed undocumented workers and deprived them of employment benefits. The list is long: some would describe it as a litany of examples of unethical practice.

Then in is his much talked about book, the Art of the Deal, Mr Trump extolled the virtues of exaggeration, of what he called 'truthful hyperbole.'

But are we supposed to believe what President Trump says over what the media tells us?

With 25 million followers on Twitter and another 15 million who follow the POTUS twitter handle (President of the United States), the President has a following to rival that of the most popular of the media.

There is a question mark over how many of these followers are genuine. It is thought that only around 15 per cent are domestic followers, and of that number, many are not actual supporters.

But what is clear is that social media is combining with some traditional media channels to create a bias bubble, confirming existing beliefs, ignoring all evidence that contradicts the Trump narrative.

President Obama used to remind people that more Americans died in the bath than were killed by terrorists: President Trump accuses the media of under reporting terrorist atrocities. Journalists who won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting of terrorism are quick to deny it, but maybe more objective, but less popular reporting, would focus on bath deaths.

But the filter bubble is around us: in an age when most of us carry the world's biggest library in our pockets and handbags, instead of seeing more wisdom, as you might expect, we see bias threaten to divide society: creating populist movements representing different extremes, facts relegated to irrelevance.

And while President Trump promises to bring jobs back home: too little emphasis is placed on automation. The value of goods manufactured in the US has never been greater, the proportion of the US population who work in manufacturing is around the lowest level since industrialisation.

The story of US manufacturing in recent years is a story of success, but it is also a tale of job losses in manufacturing and gains in other sectors. Not all of the new jobs are as well paid, but immigrants, globalisation or indeed China are not responsible for this change.

And when the news finally permeates the mass consciousness that tax cuts for the rich do not help the white working and lower middle classes, and when, in a few years from now, lighter touch regulation is blamed for causing a new debt induced banking crisis, how might the disenfranchised non-metropolitan non-elite respond?

See also: Opinion What will happen if Trump fails?

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