Trump: ‘Any Negative Polls Are Fake News’


After Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss in the 2016 presidential election, the left immediately jumped to the conclusion that Americans must have been misled by “fake news.” The term quickly picked up traction in the mainstream media, with the definition broadening from “stories with untrue facts” to “stories that promulgate narratives we don’t like.” Now, people apply the “fake news” label to everything from tweets they find unpleasant to out-and-out falsehoods about reality.

That’s just an indicator that truth has no currency in our politics.

Another indicator: the president of the United States apparently believes that any poll he doesn’t like is “fake news.” Here’s what he tweeted this morning:

That tweet followed a CNN/ORC poll showing a 53 percent to 47 percent majority of Americans disapproving of Trump’s immigration/refugee executive order (that same poll, by the way, showed that a plurality of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of national security and the economy).

Now, it’s possible that the poll wording was skewed. Here’s the actual question asked in the poll: “As you may know, Donald Trump signed an executive order which prohibits travel to the U.S. for the next three months by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, and suspends the U.S. refugee program for four months while reducing the total number of refugees the U.S. will accept this year. Overall, do you favor or oppose this executive order?”

This does not name the seven countries; it doesn’t talk about the location from which refugees are banned. That could easily have shifted the poll results.

But it’s the blanket disdain Trump has for data that has thrown people off. He’s not just saying that the CNN/ORC poll is skewed – he didn’t even reference that poll. He’s saying any poll he doesn’t like is skewed. It’s easy for him to make that case to his supporters thanks to the polling errors on the state level that showed him losing to Clinton handily in the days leading up to the election. But it’s actually politically dangerous to wall yourself off from dissenting information – which is what Hillary did thanks to the polls.

Meanwhile, Trump is obviously upset with all the attention that Whtie House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been getting from the media, particularly in a New York Times story that suggests Trump is simply signing whatever piece of paper Bannon puts in front of him. Trump tweeted this morning:

Again with the “fake news.”

Here’s the truth about “fake news”: media organizations had better be extraordinarily careful in their reporting, because the Trump administration will – and should have – no mercy in calling out bad reporting. But just as importantly, media outlets should understand that if they get a story wrong, Trump will use it as an excuse to discredit any fact that runs contrary to his viewpoint, no matter how accurately reported.

And Trump supporters should be concerned, too – not about Trump’s attacks on the media, which are politically clever and often true, but about Trump’s own unwillingness to hear criticism. What happens when he pursues a truly unpopular policy but refuses to acknowledge its unpopularity? Trump’s “fake news” tweet actually conflicts with his “accumulation of data” tweet – if you refuse to consider data you don’t like, you’re not operating off of data but off of preconceived bias. That’s a recipe for political disaster.