The goal of all this trash talk? Simple enough: to eat away at the press’s credibility. CBS reporter Lesley Stahl said Trump admitted as much
to her shortly before the 2016 election:
“He said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.’ ”
This disrespect from the top has emboldened politicians at every level to falsely cry “fake news” when they don’t like a story. It has deepened the public distrust in the news media. It has even caused the United States to slip down in the international rankings of press rights.
“Trump tapped into hostility that was already there, and he has piled on and made it worse,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
That hostility stemmed, at least in part, from a sense that the press is just another elite institution that many Americans are convinced doesn’t represent their interests or share their values.
Trump has urged them to hate the press — and apparently, many have heeded him. (Press critic and media scholar Jay Rosen of New York University has identified Trump’s “brand promise” to his base as essentially, “Watch, we will put these people down for you.”)