Who let the watchdogs out?

What % of American adults think that criticism from news organizations keeps political leaders from doing things that shouldn’t be done?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What trend do you see in the data?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What is a consequence of this trend?

  5. For the most part, people of both parties pretty much agreed that the watchdog role of the media was a check on the presidency until 2017. What changed?

  6. During Stalin’s reign of terror he labeled anyone opposed to him as an “enemy of the people.” The term in Russian is “vrag naroda,” and it not only meant death for you but state persecution of your family. Do you think it is dangerous for the president to label the press as the “enemy of the people”?

  7. Explain whether you think that criticism from news organizations keeps political leaders from doing things that shouldn’t be done.

  8. There is now a large partisan gap in Americans’ opinion regarding the watchdog role of the press. How do you think that the growth of social media and the web has impacted this gap?

  9. There is a 44 point gap between Democrats and Republicans regarding the role of the press. How do independents feel about the watchdog role of the press?

  10. What formal Constitutional powers does the president have as a check on the press?

  11. What steps has our president taken regarding the watchdog role of the press?

  12. What does the First Amendment say about a freedom of the press?

  13. What did the Supreme Court rule regarding press freedom in New York Times v. Sullivan?

  14. John McCain was asked in 2017 whether he regards the press as the enemy of the people. “I hate the press,” responded McCain, perhaps tongue-in-cheek. “But the fact is, we need you. … If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you need to have a free and many times an adversarial press.” Compare Donald Trump’s views on press freedom with those of John McCain.

  15. There is a 44 point gap between Democrats and Republicans regarding the role of the press. How do you think partisanship impacts opinions about media bias and media trustworthiness?*

Visual Extension*

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Learning Extension

Check out the data and analysis of partisanship and the media from the Pew Research Center.

Action Extension

Contact the President and ask him to explain his position on freedom of the press and whether he plans to continue calling the press the “enemy of the people?”

Cartoon Extension

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