Trump’s anti-media rhetoric leads to support of the press, study says



Jason Peifer

Assistant professor Jason Peifer (Tiantian Zhang | The Media School)

Anti-media rhetoric espoused by president Donald Trump may indirectly result in an increased support of the press, according to a study published by assistant professor Jason Peifer.

Warring with the Press: The Influence of Elite Hostility, Emotions, and Perceptions of News Media Importance on Support for Journalism” appears in Journalism Studies.

The study exposed each subject to one of three videos: one featuring anti-media statements by Trump, one featuring news coverage of Trump’s political activity unrelated to criticism of the media and one featuring generic, non-political news coverage.

Those who watched the video with Trump’s anti-media statements reported more anger and stronger feelings of support toward the press than those who watched the other videos. Those who watched the video featuring news coverage of Trump’s political activity unrelated to criticism of the media still reported more anger and stronger feelings of support toward the press than those who watched the generic video, which Peifer says is evidence of a “Trump bump” — meaning some people express more support for the press simply because they oppose Trump and his policies, and perceive him to be at odds with the press.

Support for this project was provided by the Barbara Restle Press Law Project and the Office of the Vice Provost of Research’s Grant-in-Aid program.