According to a new poll from Ipsos entitled “Americans’ Views on the Media,” a plurality of Republicans — a horrifying 43 percent — think that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,” without a specification of what “bad behavior” would be defined as.
Presumably, the news would be so designated if it were determined by, I don’t know, the guy with the power to shut them down that they were disseminating “fake” information.
Let that sink in for a minute. Nearly half of Republicans think that Donald Trump should have the power to simply make the news go away if he doesn’t like it, and it has been pretty well demonstrated that he is not a fan. Not of any news other than Fox and Friends and the like. Which means that not only would Trump be able to just disappear CNN and MSNBC and PBS, what would be left would be the infotainment that’s been branding itself as “fair and balanced” for 25 years now.
But perhaps the most terrifying thing about all of this is thinking back to just a few short years ago when people simply didn’t like the news. They didn’t like hearing things that they disagreed with, but for the most part, the news was the NEWS — as in, the daily historical record of current events.
Gone now are the days of Dan Rather and Ted Koppel and Diane Sawyer and even perhaps Barbara Walters, who was known to occasionally say things that might have made President Trump uncomfortable.
If you’re not squirming in your seat yet, hang on: That number is for unspecified “bad behavior” and not particular news agencies. That means that maybe those respondents thought there should be a chance for one outlet or another to prove themselves as legitimate. But right off the top, the poll asked about specific outlets — the New York Times, the Washington Post, or CNN, for example — and nearly a quarter of Republicans said those agencies should be shuttered.
They’re already there in their heads. Ready for news they don’t like to stop existing.
Donald Trump’s statement to Lesley Stahl in his first interview after being elected President has been his drumbeat since that day and it’s working.
Here’s a reminder:
Featured image via screen capture