Shooting The Messenger: Democrat Voters Blame Trump For Divisions, GOP Voters Blame Media

Written by Dana Sanchez

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It’s no secret that Donald Trump is annoyed with the news media for easing up on covering politics to cover the mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats and CNN headquarters, and the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people while they prayed.

Trump hates being portrayed unflatteringly in the media. Now he has told us that he also hates it when the media — the ones he calls the enemy of the people — stop portraying him altogether.

“This ‘bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows – news not talking politics,” Trump tweeted. “Very unfortunate what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote.”

The media have been good for the business of being Trump so far. However, Trump can’t take credit for shooting the messenger. That phenomenon has been recorded dating back at least to Plutarch, a Greek and Roman writer born in 45 A.D.

“Shooting the messenger” is an analogy for breaking an unwritten code of conduct in war. Before cell phones and the internet, commanding officers were expected to receive and send back unharmed messengers or diplomatic envoys sent by the enemy.

The ultimate absurdity is that the most extraordinarily liberating communications system invented since the printing press could bring the west down by being turned into a tool of oppression and censorship.” — Andrew Fowler, author of “Shooting the Messenger: Criminalising Journalism”

Shooting the messenger
Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash


There’s an early literary citing of “shooting the messenger” in “Plutarch’s Lives”: “The first messenger, that gave notice of Lucullus’ coming was so far from pleasing Tigranes that, he had his head cut off for his pains; and no man dared to bring further information. Without any intelligence at all, Tigranes sat while war was already blazing around him, giving ear only to those who flattered him”

Respondents in a new Politico poll blame both Trump and the media for doing more to divide than unite the country since he took office, but the media have been worse, according to this survey. Fifty-six percent said Trump has done more to divide the country than unite it. Even more voters — 64 percent — said the media have done more to divide the country than unite it.

The poll was conducted between Oct. 25 and Oct. 30, at the height of news coverage of the pipe bombs and the Pittsburgh shooting.

Respondents were asked whether Trump’s rhetoric was most to blame for the violence: 36 percent said Trump was most to blame, 31 percent hold Democrats in Congress more responsible, 9 percent blamed congressional Republicans and 24 percent had no opinion.

More than three in four registered voters, 77 percent, said they are very likely to vote in the midterm elections — 84 percent of Democratic voters, 77 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of independents, Politico reported.