Trump repeatedly calls news media "the enemy of the people."

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Congress is less popular than herpes.
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Why we do what we do: democracy depends upon well-informed citizens


Poynter research has found overall trust and confidence in the media has increased since Trump took office, to the highest levels observed since the 2001 terrorist attacks, although the president’s persistent condemnations of the “mainstream media” as “fake news” appear to have exacerbated partisan divisions in attitudes toward the press. Based on responses from 2,100 survey participants whose news consumption habits were tracked in November 2017, “… Republicans have vastly more negative views of the press than do Democrats, and are more likely to support restrictions on press freedom. While Democrats with high political knowledge say they have the most faith in the press, Republicans with high political knowledge are the most distrustful of the media — more so than Republicans with low political knowledge.”
But the problem goes beyond attitudes about media veracity. Research shows Americans are woefully underinformed about how American government works, and just one out of three U.S. Citizens can name all three branches of government. Meanwhile, an equal amount can’t name any of the three. Only 24 percent of 12th graders scored proficient or above on the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress civics exam, the second lowest of any measured subject (history was the lowest). The U.S. ranks 139 of 172 democracies in terms of voter participation.

Some of this sorry situation may be the result of growing frustration over dysfunction in Washington. We blame both dominant political parties for having become more extreme and less interested in governing within the past decade. The percentage of people who believe Congress is doing a good job may soon be measured in negative digits. The Gallup Organization reported in December an ave-


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rage approval rating of 19 percent for Congress for all of 2017, the eighth consecutive year congressional approval has been less than 20 percent.

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Even PolitiFact confirmed as “mostly true” the assertion that approval of Congress falls below that for “hemorrhoids, Nickelback, traffic jams, root canals, colonoscopies – even herpes.”

As a 501 (c) (3) charitable nonprofit organization devoted to information and education, TransForm Idaho has the mission and the responsibility to bring clarity to the democratic process by helping separate fact from blather, and by helping Idaho voters and their elected officials (and anyone else) understand how to seek accurate information, weigh credibility, and recognize opinion as distinct from news.
Click on the NEWS tab above to find links to trusted news sources, and go to the TransForm Idaho Blog, where we present compilations of significant news stories. There, as in this article, links within the text and identified as “Sources” at the end of posts will take interested readers to the original stories we used to build the compilations.

Our Blog also features background essays, also with links to relevant trusted sources,  that address events related to the four key issue categories you have helped us identify as being of the greatest importance to Idaho voters – Health, Economy, Education, and Rights.

And we provide resources for fact-checking and learning more about what makes news and how to thwart propaganda and outright misdirection in our current, tumultuous political situation.

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

-- Margaret Mead

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We help voters and elected officials alike be fully informed about the factors involved in issues that concern us all as we work together to transform Idaho. We provide resources and research tools to separate fact from fiction.

 As John F. Kennedy put it, “…the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
Kennedy could not have anticipated Donald J. Trump as a successor to the presidency of the United States. But his statement, and the broader context in which it was made, underscore the far greater challenge that continues to confront us as responsible citizens.
To put it bluntly, we are caught in an information crisis, and it’s largely one of our own making.  This is a bitter irony of the 21st Century, in which, with access to more information more quickly than ever before, so many Americans know so little about their own country and how it’s supposed to work. Perhaps it is more accurate to call this willful ignorance, rather than lack of knowledge. The Trump presidency brought to the forefront what had largely been regarded as a fringe element of our society, fueled by prejudice and distrust and marinated in conspiracy theories, misdirection, and outright lies. Increasingly, Americans have grown to not only distrust news media, but also to refuse to question the accuracy of what information they do get.
As Indira Lakshmanan writes for a series on journalism ethics for the Poynter Institute, “Distrust of the news media didn’t start with Donald Trump, but he has amplified and stoked those doubts like no American president before him. Trump is also not the first politician to discredit any negative reporting on him, but his effort to undermine a shared understanding of facts conveyed in fair, vetted reporting takes a page from the playbooks of authoritarians in China, Cuba, Russia and Venezuela.”