From disbelieving the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to believing President Donald Trump should have the authority to punish news outlets he doesn’t like, Trump-supporting Republicans today hold several views that would leave most Americans scratching their heads, jaws agape, thoroughly repulsed.
Let’s lead with a poll conducted by the global marketing firm Ipsos and reported by the Daily Beast. It found that 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said they believed “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”
When asked if President Trump should shut down The Post, CNN and the New York Times, 23 percent of Republicans said yes.
Attacks on the free press come as no surprise in the Trump era, King writes, and they disturb him as a member of the American media.
More disturbing to me as a citizen is that those Trump cultists would knowingly and willingly give him the power to trample on the First Amendment, destroying an essential part of our democracy that he doesn’t like. That is appalling.
Places these Republicans might prefer?
● North Korea, where domestic media outlets are “state controlled and closely monitored, and produce propaganda with the aim of ensuring absolute loyalty to Kim Jong-un.”
● China, which “maintains control over news reporting via direct ownership, accreditation of journalists [and] harsh penalties for online criticism.”
● Russia, which controls the main national news agenda, and where news “outlets operate with the understanding that the government has the means to close them at any time.”
Speaking of Russia, a disturbing number of Republicans would welcome or at the very least not mind if the government of Vladimir Putin interfered in U.S. elections so long as it was with the purpose of helping Republicans win.
In a Yahoo Finance-SurveyMonkey poll conducted from July 25 to 27, 11 percent of the Republicans surveyed said it would be “appropriate” for Russia to interfere in the midterm elections if it helped their party keep control of Congress, and 29 percent said it would not be “a big deal.” Yes, a majority of Republicans (55 percent) opposed the idea. But the fact that 40 percent of Republicans would be okay with Russian interference in a U.S. election if it helped their side speaks to a lack of allegiance to our democratic institutions.
What about Trump’s near constant lying?
Nearly a quarter of Republicans (22 percent) believe Trump tells the truth only “some of the time or less,” but more than half of that group still approves of the job he’s doing as president, according to an NBC News-SurveyMonkey online poll. They seem to believe that Trump can do no wrong, even though they know he’s likely lying to them.
Case in point: Trump tells the nation that his handling of the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was a great success. GOP leadership and 55 percent of Americans didn’t think so. But because Trump spoke those words, 71 percent of Republicans approved of his behavior, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll. Want more? While most Americans (59 percent) accepted the intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign to help Trump, only 32 percent of Republicans agreed.
Republican support for Trump eclipses all sense of reasonableness and has the power to chip away at America’s democratic institutions in ways most people likely never thought possible.
And that is where our democracy faces its challenge. Election Day in November is the decision point. It offers the moment to reaffirm support for fundamental freedoms and integrity in government. The choice will be there in print. The Republican’s name on the ballot in your district may be different, but it is, de facto, Donald Trump. You know where his base stands. Where stand you?