US press accused of ignoring the most obvious problem with Donald Trump - his approval rating

The media is giving Trump an easy ride by focusing on his daily tweets rather than Americans' lack of faith in him, according to a well-known writer

Rachel Roberts
Saturday 07 January 2017 13:16 GMT
Donald Trump's plummeting popularity in the polls has gone largely unreported, according to a US commentator
Donald Trump's plummeting popularity in the polls has gone largely unreported, according to a US commentator (AFP/Getty)

It may seem there is a never-ending barrage of negative stories about Donald Trump, but a leading commentator has accused the US press of ignoring the most glaringly obvious problem with the President-elect – his abysmal approval ratings.

Eric Boehlert, who wrote “Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled over for Bush”, claims the media is doing the same for Mr Trump as he says they did with George W Bush and giving him an easy ride by focusing on personality politics – particularly his tweets.

Mr Boehlert, a senior fellow at US research centre, Media Matters, claims: “There’s a glaring Trump transition story hiding in plain sight: He’s historically unpopular. The press ought to start telling that tale on a daily basis.”

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In terms of polling data, Mr Boehlert said there is “virtually no good news for Trump. The results generally point in the same direction: He’s widely disliked and inspires little confidence in his presidential abilities.”

When President Obama entered the White House in January 2009, his approval ratings stood at 68 per cent compared to Mr Trump’s current Gallop poll rating of 43 per cent – a contrast Mr Boehlert describes as “stunning”. Historically, approval ratings for Presidents tend to go down rather than up.

The majority of Americans believe that Mr Trump will make a “poor” or “terrible” President, and 68 per cent describe him as “hard to like”, while his picks for cabinet also receive little backing in the polls.

54 per cent of adults say they’re either “uncertain” (25 per cent) or pessimistic and worried (29 per cent) about how Trump will perform during his presidency.

Mr Behlert calls these numbers “off-the-charts awful” for an American President-elect. On average, 71 per cent of Americans were confident that Presidents Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton could handle an international crisis as they were entering the Whitehouse while just 46 per cent are confident about Trump’s ability to handle such a crisis.

Other commentators have agreed that Mr Trump is being treated with kid gloves by a media who collectively seem more interested in what he says – particularly on Twitter – than in what he might actually do.

Writer John Deen claimed in Newsweek that with the exception of a few outspoken commentators, the "gutless" American press is "standing idly by to watch Trump destroy the country so they can report the fall of America”.

Although Mr Trump has repeatedly accused the media of “lying” about him and giving him unfair coverage, Mr Deen claims: “Watching the formation of Donald Trump’s presidency, the press coverage is disappointingly weak and thin. The news coverage of the transition of the most unqualified man ever elected to the White House is as weak and wishy-washy as it was at the outset of his campaign.”

Mr Deen believes this is because: “The news media is so fixated with Trump himself, along with his endless need to consume all the oxygen in any room where they are all together, that they are totally ignoring how he is preparing for his presidency. This (reporting his personality) is what sells.”

Mr Trump made history by losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by a landslide of almost 2.9 million, but winning the presidency because of the electoral college-based voting system.

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