Republicans Want to Call Watchdog Press to Heel

(CN) — With President Donald Trump fuming daily about “fake news,” the Pew Research Center found unprecedented partisan divide Wednesday in a survey that dissects both media fairness and its role in free society.

Pew identified this year as the “sharpest divide ever measured.”

Compared against 89 percent of Democrats, just 42 percent of Republicans polled by Pew agreed with the statement that “criticism from news organizations keep political leaders from doing things that shouldn’t be done.”

Support for the watchdog role of the press had been in constant flux since the survey’s genesis in 1985, but the last two years of the survey, in 2013 and 2016, showed a rough consensus on the issue from both parties.

“While Republicans have been more likely to support a watchdog role during Democratic presidencies and vice versa, the distance between the parties has never approached the 47-point gap that exists today,” the 40-page report states. “The widest gap up to now occurred during the George W. Bush administration, when Democrats were 28 points more likely than Republicans to support a watchdog role.”

Republicans are now 56 percent more likely to agree that the press critique “keeps political leaders from doing their jobs,” as opposed to only 9 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents who feel the same.

Pew put a small caveat on its conclusion.

For the first time in the survey’s 31-year history, voters submitted their answers over the internet not telephone.

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