Trust in media rises as Trump’s popularity declines; who knew?

With all the fallout over the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the public blowback regarding the U.S. House’s repeal and replacement of Obamacare orchestrated by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the news has generally been bad for the president. And his poll numbers show it.

FBI Director James Comey gives the keynote speech at the Intelligence in Defense of the Homeland symposium at the University of Texas at Austin on Thursday, March 23, 2017. The symposium is held by UT Austin’s Intelligence Studies Project and Business Executives for National Security. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

That message was delivered in poll numbers released this week by the independent Quinnipiac University poll.

“American voters, who gave President Donald Trump a slight approval bump after the missile strike in Syria, today give him a near-record negative 36 – 58 percent job approval rating,” a statement said, in explaining the national poll released on May 10.

“Critical are big losses among white voters with no college degree, white men and independent voters,” which make up a significant section of Trump’s base.

Trump’s job approval rating has gone down since an April 19 survey conducted by the university that found a negative 40 percent to 56 percent approval rating. April 4, however, was Trump’s lowest approval rating since he became president with a negative 35 to 57 percent score.

“There is no way to spin or sugarcoat these sagging numbers,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

He added: “The erosion of white men, white voters without college degrees and independent voters, the declaration by voters that President Donald Trump’s first 100 days were mainly a failure and deepening concerns about Trump’s honesty, intelligence and levelheadedness are red flags that the administration simply can’t brush away.”

The slide in Trump’s approval ratings was stark among independent voters and white men:

  • Negative 29 – 63 percent among independent voters, down from a negative 38 – 56 percent April 19;
  • A split among white voters with no college degree; 47 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove, compared to a 57 – 38 percent approval April 19;
  • White men go from a 53 – 41 percent approval April 19 to a split today, 48 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving.

But with his popularity numbers skidding to record lows, Trump has managed to do something great for the news media: Greatly improve the public’s trust of the news media. Who knew?

As his job approval numbers have tanked, the media’s have spiked upward.

According to the poll, voters trust the media more than Trump to tell the truth about important issues by 57 percent to 31 percent.

It wasn’t all good news for the media. The poll also found that American voters disapprove of the way the news media covers Trump with 58 percent disapproving to 37 percent who approve. But, voters also disapprove of the way Trump talks about the media, 65 percent to 31 percent.

The poll surveyed 1,078 voters from May 4 – 9, nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. Live interviewers called landlines and cell phones, the survey stated.

It will be interesting to see whether the shifting stories by the White House will continue to erode the president’s popularity or credibility.

Initially, White House aides and Vice President Mike Pence said Trump fired Comey based on a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that sharply criticized Comey’s job performance, including his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

But that explanation was Trumped, when the president downplayed Rosenstein’s role, telling NBC News anchor Lester Holt that he had for some time planned to fire Comey because he was a “showboat” who lost the confidence of his employees and the public.

Stay tuned. This is just 112 days into the Trump presidency.