In Face of Withering Attacks by President Trump, 1st Amendment Seen As ‘Very Important’ by Overwhelming Majority of Americans; Most Adults Nationwide Say This White House *Not* Being Treated Unfairly, Under the Same Microscope As Previous Administrations
Freedom of the press, enshrined in the Bill of Rights as the 1st amendment to the Constitution of the United States, is under unprecedented attack by President Donald Trump as the root of all evils. SurveyUSA interviewed 1,600 adults nationwide 02/16/17. Of the adults, 94% (1,500 adults) say they reflect on current events 1 or more hours a day and were included in this survey. An equal number of Republicans and Democrats were interviewed. Essential findings:
* 82% say the 1st amendment is very important. (85% of Republicans, 84% of Democrats.)
* 14% say the 1st amendment is somewhat important.
* 1% say the 1st amendment is not very important.
* 1% say the 1st amendment is not at all important.
* Combined: 96% important, 2% unimportant.
As a point of reference, the 2nd amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to keep and bear arms, has comparatively less support:
* 58% say the 2nd amendment is very important. (77% of Republicans, 53%of Democrats.)
* 25% say the 2nd amendment is somewhat important.
* 8% say the 2nd amendment is not very important.
* 6% say the 2nd amendment is not at all important.
* Combined: 83% important, 14% unimportant.
A majority of Americans disagree with President Trump when he says he is being treated unfairly by the news media. 54% nationwide say the Trump White House is under the same microscope that previous administrations have faced. This view is expressed by 55% of independents, 58% of moderates and by a majority in every region of the country.
However: this view is not shared by Protestants. A majority of Protestants, 55%, say Mr. Trump is being treated unfairly. They stand alone. Catholics, other Christians, members of other religions and non-religious Americans say the Trump White House is not being singled out.
Context: Senior White House strategist Steven Bannon has described the news media as “the opposition party”; Bannon repeated this statement today, Thursday, 02/16/17. While it is nothing new for a White House to have a healthy, adversarial relationship with the press, and that is par for the course, President Trump’s expressed strategy of blaming the free press for addressing perceived missteps by his administration, President Trump’s ridiculing of the press by deriding its work as “fake news,” mocking and belittling individual reporters and labeling news outlets as “failing,” is unprecedented. Half of the interviews for this survey were completed before President Trump’s 1 pm ET news conference today, 02/16/17 in which he described the press as “dishonest” and “out of control.” Material statement from SurveyUSA here.