Trumps Approval Numbers Continue to Rise Despite 90% Negative Media Coverage of Him (5-18 - MRC, Newsbusters)
Trumps Approval Numbers Continue to Rise Despite 90% Negative Media Coverage of Him (5-18 – MRC, Newsbusters)

Democrat Law Professor: Media Fulfilling Trump Narrative That Voters Can’t Trust Media

Why Donald Trump could thank the media if he wins reelection this fall | TheHill #mediawatch #Media_Coverage #turley



Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on how the media seems confused by polls that not only fail to show former Vice President Joe Biden surging but some showing Trump pulling ahead with voters.  The problem is that the media has never shown any real interest in understanding Trump voters, preferring to stereotype them as racists, as done in a recent Washington Post column.  The truth might be found in a famous Stanford experiment called “Bobo the Clown.”

Here is the column:

Various media outlets are struggling with recent polls that not only show President Trump at the same popularity as this time last year but actually rising in states like Ohio. When one poll found him leading by 7 points in battleground states, John King cautioned viewers to “be careful not to invest too much in any one poll” especially amid the coronavirus. It was a CNN poll and, while Biden leads in other polls, it is not unique.

The media seems honestly confused. It was not supposed to work this way. With unrelentingly negative coverage of an impeachment, a pandemic, and an economic collapse, voters were supposed to be angry. There is even a psychological model for such social cognitive learning or conditioning called “Bobo the Clown” and, while this experiment by psychologist Albert Bandura, these polls suggest that conditioning does not work nearly as well in politics as it does on playgrounds.

In 1961, Bandura used a goofy inflatable clown named Bobo and had children watch adults as they acted aggressively toward it. Soon the children followed the adults’ example and beat the clown. Conversely, when children watched the clown being treated without aggression, they were less aggressive toward it.


For many voters, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are not so funny clowns, and voters are being conditioned by some in the media to treat one aggressively and the other not aggressively. It is not the first attempt at media conditioning: In 2016, when every poll indicated that voters wanted outsider candidates, Democratic leaders pushed through one of the two most unpopular presidential candidates in history, Hillary Clinton.

She was beaten by the other most unpopular figure on the Republican side, Trump. Yet, after largely positive treatment of Clinton and correspondingly negative coverage of Trump, the election results stunned experts who predicted an easy win for Clinton — and why not? Voters had been exposed to unyielding, continual media conditioning against Trump.

The conclusion of the media today appears to be that the scathing treatment in 2016 was not aggressive enough. Trump is routinely called an actual clown by some in the media. More importantly, there are now consistent attacks on Trump supporters. Washington Post “conservative columnist” Jennifer Rubin has declared that Trump supporters as a whole are racists. That common stereotyping of Trump supporters is uncontested, even as the media objects to Trump’s generalizations about other groups.

Columnist Leonard Pitts wrote a recent column entitled, “No, it’s not the economy, stupid. Trump supporters fear a black and brown America.” The narrative has moved beyond Clinton’s description of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” to now portraying all Trump supporters as open racists. “Make America Great Again” hats are denounced by academics as the symbol of “modern day hitlerjugend” and hate speech.

It is all part of media-cognitive learning, and it is working in a curious way. Recent polls show Trump at the exact same spot as he was last year, with roughly 43 percent support. In Ohio he actually is ahead by 3 percentage points in a survey from Emerson College and Nexstar Media; he and Biden are in a statistical dead heat in Wisconsin. In other words, as in 2016, the media campaign is forcing Trump supporters into the closet, but not away from Trump.


Meanwhile, the media has been working hard at non-aggressive treatment of Biden. His frequent gaffes are quickly dismissed; when he was accused of sexual assault, the media reluctantly noted the story. Even when Biden recently espoused a conspiracy theory that Trump was going to halt the November election, the media called it a “prediction” and ignored that it was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution.

At the end of last year, the Media Research Center found that network evening news was 96 percent negative against Trump. The drumbeat has only increased with impeachment and pandemic coverage this year. Despite such saturated messaging, polls show that the number of voters expressing strong “enthusiasm” for Biden is wallowing at just 24 percent, while Trump remains at 53 percent. Biden is just 3 points ahead of Trump in the most recent polls, actually behind where Clinton was in 2016. The reason may be that the anti-Trump narrative is so overwhelming that voters feel they are being played like the kids in the Bandura experiment.

Consider again the recent attack of the Post’s Rubin on most Republicans. Rubin lashed out at the immigration freeze ordered by Trump during the pandemic; however, she was not satisfied with denouncing the policy as a political stunt to appeal to the unemploy⁵yyy_ed. She declared: “No doubt Trump’s base is primarily motivated by racism. This is why Trump does this.” The statement captures the accepted, unhinged bias against all Trump supporters in the mainstream media.

I did not vote for Trump, and I have regularly criticized him in columns and blog posts. However, I have watched the stereotyping of Trump supporters at media conferences for years. It suggests that roughly 63 million people in this country who voted for Trump in 2016 are knuckle-dragging racists. It ignores the fact that Hillary Clinton had record negative polling before the nomination and was widely viewed as pathologically inauthentic.

Recently, polls show 85 percent of Republicans support Trump. Thus, according to Rubin, 85 percent of Republicans (and roughly 10 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents) — in other words, almost half of America — are primarily motivated by racism. Does that track with any sense of reality? There are a host of reasons for these voters to support Trump other than racism.

What is not being discussed much in the media is that people might have non-racist reasons for supporting Trump. The fact is that Trump has a curious record: He has been repeatedly (and correctly) chastised for untrue statements, and yet he has one of the best records for actually keeping campaign promises — the crackdown on imùmigration, building of the border wall, pro-life policies and appointments, selection of conservative jurists, tax cuts, regulation rollbacks, opening up areas to oil drilling.

These and many other aspects of his administration are the most controversial but also are the long-held wish list of conservatives going back to Ronald Reagan. Indeed, while 85 percent of Republicans support Trump, a new poll shows that 23 percent would like to see someone else as their nominee. Yet, Rubin and others simply dismiss all Trump supporters as monolithic, pathological racists.

Thus, polls indicate that the unending attacks on Trump and his supporters in the media are not conditioning but, instead, are repelling voters. They are fulfilling his narrative that voters cannot trust the media. Many voters may still view both Trump and Biden as over-inflated clowns, but they resent being continually conditioned to hit one clown and hug the other. Indeed, if Trump is reelected, he may have the media to thank.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.

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  1. Pingback: The Revenge Of “Bobo The Clown”? How The Media Is Inadvertently Reelecting Donald Trump – republican freedom
  2. Pingback: The Revenge Of “Bobo The Clown”? How The Media Is Inadvertently Reelecting Donald Trump – Real Conservatives Unite
  3. Anonymous says:Glenn Greenwald: “…his [Ben Smiths] diagnosis of what is destroying American journalism is dead-on”‘Ben Smith’s NYT Critique of Ronan Farrow Describes a Toxic, Corrosive, and Still-Vibrant Trump-Era Pathology: “Resistance Journalism”’\“All professions and institutions suffer when a herd, groupthink mentality and the banning of dissent prevail. But few activities are corroded from such a pathology more than journalism is, which has as its core function skepticism and questioning of pieties. Journalism quickly transforms into a sickly, limp version of itself when it itself wages war on the virtues of dissent and airing a wide range of perspectives.“I do not know how valid are Smith’s critiques of Farrow’s journalism. But what I know for certain is that Smith’s broader diagnosis of “Resistance Journalism” is dead-on, and the harms it is causing are deep and enduring. When journalists know they will thrive by affirming pleasing falsehoods, and suffer when they insist on unpopular truths, journalism not only loses its societal value but becomes just another instrument for societal manipulation, deceit, and coercion.”Loading…Reply
  4. Seth Warner says:MANUFACTURED OUTRAGE OVER NEW YORK NURSING HOMESBUT NO LEADERSHIP BY TRUMPFurther down the thread is a huge argument. Regarding the state of New York’s controversial decree that nursing home accept virus infected residents.I claim no inside knowledge of New York’s local healthcare system. But the New York City metro region was essentially ground zero of this pandemic. It makes sense. New York is more densely populated than any other U.S. City. Manhattan has 70,000 people per square mile. Millions depend on public transit.So it isn’t hard to imagine that during the height of infections, New York was essentially a war zone in terms of health emergencies. One presumes that Albany was overwhelmed by demands placed on state government.This all raises the question of Trump’s leadership. New York City is Trump’s hometown. Trump was, in fact, one of the city’s biggest boosters during the grim 80’s and 90’s. One would have expected Donald Trump to take a personal interest in New York’s situation during this pandemic.Trump could have offered Trump owned properties to house emergency medical facilities. Trump, in fact, could have offered his New Jersey Country Club as a medical facility. New Jersey, like New York, was hit especially hard as part of that Metro Region.One has to ask, in fact, ‘What real leadership has Trump offered the states?’ He is actually on record as saying, “I’m not responsible” (for Federal leadership). The states are on their own! No national strategy for a global pandemic. No leadership to the world community. Germany, by the default, has been the world leader. Oh, and South Korea, too. The world is looking to ‘those’ countries in a vacuum of U.S. leadership.This vacuum of leadership has made the United States appear dysfunctional to the world. It’s true, we are dysfunctional; our president has no desire to govern. Trump’s only skill is fighting Culture Wars. And with Trump every issue becomes an argument. Essentially America is having a low-level Civil War. And that reflects the malevolent intentions of Donald Trump.No president who loves America would exploit a global crisis to pursue his personal grievances. Yet Trump is doing just that; holding the country hostage during a global crisis. And to think we have an election coming in only 6 months.We’re supposed to believe Trump deserves reelection. A president who proclaimed himself as “Not Responsible”. ‘He’, we should reason, is indispensable. Yeah, ‘the man who’s not responsible is indispensable’. Only Trump supporters could buy such a joke.And Professor Turley wonders why the media portrays Trump as a clown.Loading…Reply
    1. Young says:Seth. You forgot in your rant that Trump is not mayor of New YorkThe mayor urged people to mingle in the streets and restaurants when Trump was curtailing travel from China.The New York politicians were sending infection straight into nursing homes and causing the deaths of helpless people.She should stick to doing your nails.Loading…Reply
      1. John Elder says:Young, what locations were New York Republicans suggesting? Who was leading New York’s Republican response?You on your nightshift guard job?Loading…Reply
        1. Anonymous says:Some of these people must feel threatened by your comments, John Elder. If they didn’t, they’d simply ignore you, at this point. They’re jerks. Pay them no mind.Loading…Reply
  5. CommitToHonestDiscussion says:In other news today …Evan Pérez:
    “Today, we learned a foreign terrorist group — AQAP [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] — for the first time since 9/11 successfully directed a deadly attack on US soil (Pensacola NAS). Pre-2017, would’ve dominated coverage. Congress would have demanded hearings on failed vetting. Not today”More info from CNN:
    “The Saudi military trainee who killed three US sailors and wounded several others in a terror attack last year on a military base in Pensacola, Florida, was a longtime associate of al Qaeda who had communicated with operatives from the group as recently as the night before the shooting, the Justice Department and the FBI announced Monday. US investigators uncovered the al Qaeda connection after the FBI broke through the encryption protecting the Saudi attacker’s iPhones and have been able to use the information on the devices to carry out a recent counterterrorism operation in Yemen, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a news conference.”Andrew Desiderio:
    “Confirmed: State Dept IG Steve Linick was also looking into Trump’s emergency declaration to sell arms to Saudi Arabia [contrary to the will of Congress]. ‘We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,’ Rep Engel says”Have to wonder about Trump’s judgment when it comes to Saudi Arabia. Recall that he also shrugged off MBS’s murder of the Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.Loading…Reply
  6. Anonymous says:Mark Pontin says:May 18, 2020 at 6:19 PM
    “Wake up. So are they all. At least, that or malign narcissists — hard to split the diagnostic differenceI used to work as a journalist. I found a letter from Joe Lieberman in my files the other day praising my work, got into a fight with New Gingrich one-on-one over breakfast, had George Schultz put the phone down on me, and sat through senate/congressional hearings thirty feet from H. Clinton, L. Graham, and some of the others.It’s the American empire. With a few brief interruptions it’s always been run by psychopaths. If there was ever truth in advertising, instead of Abraham Lincoln they’d put Al Capone’s face on the five-dollar bill and the one-cent coin.”—Others to be considered for our currency: Allen Dulles, Sidney Gottlieb…And yes: “It’s the American empire.” Most Americans have no idea…Loading…Reply
  7. Pingback: The Revenge Of “Bobo The Clown”? How The Media Is Inadvertently Reelecting Donald Trump – COVID-19 | Coronavirus
  8. Will Kane says:BARR ESSENTIALLY DISMISSES ‘OBAMAGATE’Attorney General William P. Barr said Monday that he did not expect the prosecutor he handpicked to review the 2016 FBI investigation into President Trump’s campaign would investigate former president Barack Obama or former vice president Joe Biden — an assertion likely to dismay Trump and his conservative allies.Barr’s comment came at a news conference to discuss last year’s shooting at a U.S. military base in Pensacola, Fla. A reporter asked about Trump suggesting publicly in recent weeks that top officials in the Obama administration, including the former president, had committed crimes.While noting he was not taking aim at Trump’s comments specifically, Barr lambasted what he called the “increasing attempts to use the criminal justice system as a political weapon.”“The legal tactic has been to gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories,” Barr said. “This is not a good development.”“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”He declined to say who Durham was focused on.Edited from: “Barr Says He Does Not Expect Obama Or Biden Will Be Investigated By Prosecutors Regarding 2016 Russia Probe”This Evening’s Washington PostLoading…Reply
    1. Will Kane says:Regarding Above:Turley’s statement about mainstream media portraying Trump as ‘clownish’ appears well-founded.Loading…Reply
  9. Pingback: The Revenge Of “Bobo The Clown”? How The Media Is Inadvertently Reelecting Donald Trump – Maris Research
  10. Pingback: The Revenge Of “Bobo The Clown”? How The Media Is Inadvertently Reelecting Donald Trump – Tradezy
  11. Pingback: Месть “Бобо Клоун”? Как СМИ случайно переизбирают Дональда Трампа – Коронавирус | COVID-19
  12. Pingback: The Revenge Of “Bobo The Clown”? How The Media Is Inadvertently Reelecting Donald Trump | Verity Weekly

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