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“Once the media talked to us; now they shout at us.” April 2, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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We frequently drive by a faded Kerry/Edwards 2004 yard sign. Despite the fact that it has been nearly two years since the election, it stands as a testament to the passion of that campaign.

In the February 2006 issue of Commentary (link available here), James Q. Wilson examined the increasing political polarization in American society as well as possible causes. He comments on the mainstream media:

"The evidence of liberal bias in the mainstream media is very strong. The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) has been systematically studying television broadcasts for a quarter-century. In the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry received more favorable mentions than any presidential candidate in CMPA's history, especially during the month before election day. This is not new: since 1980 (and setting aside the recent advent of Fox News), the Democratic candidate has received more favorable mentions than the Republican candidate in every race except the 1988 contest between Michael Dukakis and George H. W. Bush. A similarly clear orientation characterizes weekly newsmagazines like Time and
Newsweek."

Wilson recognizes the changing tone in media commentary:

"At one time, our culture was only weakly affected by the media because news organizations had only a few points of access to us and were largely moderate and audience-maximizing enterprises. Today the media have many lines of access,
and reflect both the maximization of controversy and the cultivation of niche markets. Once the media talked to us; now they shout at us."

One question is left unanswered: did the media contribute to the decline of civility in political discourse, or does it simply reflect this decline?

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