Poll: Republicans think courts should be able to shut down media that’s “biased or inaccurate,” 45/20
Many people are saying this total civic collapse will be the best civic collapse, believe me.
Here’s what YouGov got when it asked Americans if they support or oppose letting courts shut down news media outlets for publishing stories that are “biased or inaccurate.” Looks like we’ll have to hold off on taunting the left for being free-speech disasters on “hate speech” from now on. This is an abject disgrace:
45/20, tantalizingly close to a clear majority for torching the First Amendment. Nothing says “small government” like telling judges to close down newspapers for having too much of a point of view.
GOPers aren’t the only subgroup with a plurality in favor but the others that have one — whites, conservatives, the 65+ group — are all key components of the GOP base. That’s the best spin you can put on this, and “best” is very much a relative term here: These numbers are to some extent surely just a knee-jerk reaction among Trump supporters to the mountains of unflattering coverage he’s gotten over the past six months, much of it justified, some of it not. It’s a middle finger to the media, maybe with not much thought about it beyond that. Hopefully, if the feds made a serious move towards closing down opposition press and Americans were faced with this policy as a reality, Republican opinion would quickly erode. I don’t know, though. Maybe the logical next step in the GOP’s transition from conservatism to the National Front, replete with state-run media, is to start silencing the lugenpresse.
Republicans will take a beating for this result today, deservedly, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Click and look at the numbers for the various subgroups. Among 25 demographics measured, not a single one has a majority opposed to the idea of court-ordered shutterings of certain media. The groups most strongly opposed are Clinton voters and “other” voters last fall at just 42 percent apiece. Overall, a plurality of 43 percent of the population “hasn’t heard enough” to form an opinion yet about whether the state should be allowed to target news outlets for closure. The only glimmer of hope I can give you on that bleak result (apart from the possibility that this poll is flatly wrong) is that maybe respondents are giving heavy weight to the word “inaccurate” in the poll question. The law does allow media to be penalized for inaccuracies, after all: If a falsehood rises to the level of libel or slander, damages may result. But that’s a civil penalty, not grounds for state action, and under no circumstances are news outlets penalized with having their cameras turned off or their printing presses unplugged. Americans may be ready to at least consider that step to fight, ahem, “fake news.”