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WSJ: If You Think Most Voters Distrust the Media… … imagine what the staff of Air Force One thinks of the press.

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

If You Think Most Voters Distrust the Media…

… imagine what the staff of Air Force One thinks of the press.

Stealing from Air Force One?

Yes, says the Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman.  Freeman writes:

“Many Americans tell pollsters they have no trust in media organizations. Now Beltway reporters seem to be giving Americans new reasons to be suspicious. Eli Stokols, Lauren Egan and Ben Johansen reported on Thursday for Politico:

‘In a sense, it’s a daring crime given that the aircraft and the individual traveling in its executive cabin are among the most heavily secured entities in the world. And yet, it has become shockingly common — a rite of passage where the thieves proudly discuss and display their stolen goods.’

Everyone, it appears, is pilfering from Air Force One.

Many members of the press corps who ride along on the president’s airplane can’t seem to resist stealing some swag. The Politico report continues:

‘And it’s gotten so bad that last month, NBC correspondent KELLY O’DONNELL, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, included a terse reminder to colleagues that taking items off the plane was not allowed and reflected poorly on the press corps as a whole, several individuals who saw the off-the-record email confirmed.’

The rampant thievery makes sense when you remember that Washington is a town populated by a lot of ambitious, status-seeking dorks. Many people who fly with the president on Air Force One really want you to know they’ve flown on Air Force One.

Fact check: True.

Perhaps slightly reassuring is that even if inclined toward theft, some media folk seem to behave better when reminded of their transgressions, due to either a healthy conscience or perhaps a fear that they might face consequences. The Politico team recounts how the White House responded after the Air Force One cabin crew found a striking dearth of items following a recent journey to the West Coast:

One of the press wranglers emailed everyone who’d been part of the press pool on the trip. The email, the people said, was not accusatory.

“It was like, ‘Hey, if you inadvertently wound up taking something off the plane by mistake, we can help facilitate a quiet return.’”

One individual who received the email had, in fact, gotten off the plane with an Air Force One embroidered pillowcase, and probably not by accident. When they wrote back admitting as much, arrangements were made for a discreet return.

Even people who might be inclined to forgive, for example, the unauthorized capture of a presidential shot glass are bound to conclude that making off with the bedding is more than a tchotchke too far. There’s also the fact that the press corps is supposed to function as a watchdog on politicians, not the other way around.

It’s a tough moment for the media industry to ask people not to sweat the small stuff when so many Americans think the industry is failing to fulfill honestly its primary duties.

Last fall Megan Brenan reported for Gallup:

The 32% of Americans who say they trust the mass media ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ to report the news in a full, fair and accurate way ties Gallup’s lowest historical reading, previously recorded in 2016. Although trust in media currently matches the historical low, it was statistically similar in 2021 (36%) and 2022 (34%).

Another 29% of U.S. adults have ‘not very much’ trust, while a record-high 39% register “none at all.” This nearly four in 10 Americans who completely lack confidence in the media is the highest on record by one percentage point.

In May of 2023 David Klepper reported for the Associated Press:

Americans fault news media for dividing nation: AP-NORC poll

Ask them about the impact the news media has on democracy, and Americans are likelier to say it’s doing more har…

When it comes to the news media and the impact it’s having on democracy and political polarization in the United States, Americans are likelier to say it’s doing more harm than good.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults say the news media is increasing political polarization in this country, and just under half say they have little to no trust in the media’s ability to report the news fairly and accurately, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

All of this also raises the question of whether Americans can trust media outlets to report accurately on how distrusted they are.”

What does this say about the political culture of Washington D.C.?  Everything.