Trump fans blame crisis on mainstream media bias

Supporters of President Donald J. Trump jeer at the media during a rally in March, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Supporters of President Donald J. Trump jeer at the media during a rally in March, in Nashville, Tennessee. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • In Washington, the chatter about a deepening, Watergate-style crisis has engulfed the White House - and those conversations are echoed in big cities across the country and in a succession of headlines that seem to suggest almost certain doom for the young Trump administration.

But for many Americans, including President Donald Trump's staunchest supporters, the "crisis in Washington" is not about possible missteps by Mr Trump or questions over whether his campaign colluded with Russia. For them, it is the latest egregious example of mainstream media bias and of Washington insiders desperate to preserve their status by taking revenge on the New York tycoon.

In such an intensely polarised political environment, that distrust of mainstream media will make it less likely that Trump supporters - and the Republican office holders who rely on their votes - will abandon the President any time soon.

"The more negativity, the more we are for him. It is backfiring on them," Arizona resident Nadia Larsen said of media reports about possible collusion with Russia and Mr Trump's conversations with former FBI director James Comey.

Reports from the Washington Post and New York Times that Mr Trump shared classified information with Russia's foreign minister and pressured Mr Comey to end an inquiry into former national security adviser Michael Flynn have been met with scepticism by Ms Larsen and many other supporters.

More credible, they say, is news from prominent conservative media outlets, from the Trump- friendly airwaves of Fox News to websites such as Breitbart. Those outlets have cast the allegations as an ideological attack by Obama administration holdovers or the revenge of the "deep state", a term used by the far right to refer to what they see as a deeply entrenched bureaucracy opposed to Mr Trump.

PAR FOR THE COURSE

This is what I expected. I expected the media to attack Trump. I expected the Democrats to attack him and call for impeachment. So it is par for the course for me.

MR JEFF KLUSMEIER, an insurance agent in Kentucky who is one of the President's staunch supporters.

Conservative media outlets have developed their own theories about the negative headlines. The Breitbart News Network said some accusations were driven by associates of Mr Comey, who was fired by Mr Trump last week.

Though Mr Trump's approval ratings are low for a new president, 77 per cent of Republicans approve of his performance, according to the most recent Reuters/Ipsos survey.

"The media thinks it is about Trump, and it is not," said Mr Steve Deace, an Iowa-based commentator for Conservative Review and a former talk-radio host who has been critical of Mr Trump. "It is not about Trump's credibility, it is about the media's credibility."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Trump fans blame crisis on mainstream media bias'. Print Edition | Subscribe