Some Americans say nyet to Russia coverage

Staff Report

Ohio editor argues media blowing it on Trump-Russia

By James Warren • July 14, 2017

Poynter Institute

Coverage of the Trump campaign and Russia dominated the news this morning, even as President Trump celebrated Bastille Day in sunny Paris. Still, Main Street America seems to be saying “nyet” when it comes to that unceasing focus on Russian campaign influence.

Even with the Left Vs. Right construct of much coverage, there is the National vs. Local dichotomy that finds many Americans enthusiastic about Trump and tuning out. His approval ratings are low (in the high 30s) but still stronger than one might have suspected.

Gary Abernathy, publisher-editor of the Times-Gazette in Hillsboro, Ohio, penned a Washington Post op-ed that chides “wall-to-wall coverage” of the Russia story, seeing it as the “definition of overkill” and argues that Trump’s criticisms of the press itself don’t resonate “outside of offended newsrooms.”

“Trump doesn’t deserve favorable coverage. All he deserves is fair and honest coverage. But even liberals can’t argue with a straight face that he’s wrong about mainstream media bias.” (The Washington Post)

Trump’s tweet deriding CNN by showing him wrestling its logo to the ground? Abernathy writes, “Americans were subjected to solemn sermonizing from CNN and other outlets over what were characterized as the president’s attacks on the First Amendment itself and an incitement to violence. Nonsense.”

“In Trump country, Russia scandal doesn’t resonate” is a USA Today headline.

In Wayne County, Tennessee, which went heavily for Trump, Republican County Chairwoman Stephanie Pearson puts it most vividly after saying how she thinks Donald Trump Jr. should be applauded for releasing those emails (yes, applauded).

An inevitable question – when might she turn against Trump – brings an unequivocal response.

“’I don’t know what he would have to do…I guess maybe kill someone. Just in cold blood,’ Pearson said.”

I’ve spoken with a bunch of small-town editors and journalists. And the Trump criticisms do resonate in fundamental and negative ways, especially among Republicans.

This administration has diminished the standing of the press, whether it plies its trade in big cities or, one suspects, Hillsboro, Ohio.

Staff Report