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Allison M.N. Archer

In the 2016 presidential election, verbal attacks on the press and threats of violence against journalists were commonplace during Trump’s campaign rallies. Since then, critiques of the media have increasingly become a staple in political discourse; Trump even characterized the press as the “enemy of the American people.” Of course, this is not the first time that politicians have espoused attacks on the media as a political strategy. Political leaders often discredit the press as elitist, distrustful, and biased in an attempt to spin the facts and align themselves with the “everyday” voter. In this chapter, I examine the nature of press attacks by US political leaders throughout history. Then, I present original data that characterize the frequency and nature of Trump’s criticisms of the press on Twitter. Finally, I turn to social science research to help us better understand the effects of such media attacks on voters.