Speed Reads

Poll Watch

40 percent of Americans agree with Trump that 'both sides' were equally responsible for Charlottesville violence

Four in 10 Americans believe that "both sides" were equally responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, indicating that President Trump's comments at a combative press conference earlier this week resonated with more of the public than expected. Another 46 percent of Americans believe that far-right groups were most responsible for the violence, the SurveyMonkey poll found, whereas just 9 percent believe counter-protesters are most to blame.

Trump's choice to lay blame on "both sides" was heavily criticized by the media. "He is right that there are two sides: the vestigial tail of the Confederacy and the United States of America; the white supremacists and their targets; the president and the patriots," wrote Fast Company. Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted, "There is only one side."

The SurveyMonkey poll found the majority of Republicans believe both sides are "equally" responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, while 66 percent of Democrats believe far-right groups get the biggest cut of the blame. Among independents, 51 percent think far-right groups are most responsible, followed by 38 percent who think both sides share the blame. The poll reached 2,181 respondents on Thursday online.

"These findings reflect the fact that, because of the nation's partisan divide and fractured media, we no longer agree on basic facts," writes Axios. "That makes civil debate impossible."

So where did the "both sides" thinking originate? The Week's Ryan Cooper goes back to the Civil War in his investigation, and explores the origins of the phrase "alt-left" here.