“All politics is local,” Tip O’Neill famously said. But voters seem less interested in local issues than they used to, and less informed. This is not necessarily a good sign. They are no longer strong advocates for their own local interests on the national stage.
Media consumption patterns have changed significantly in the last few years, as newspapers have declined and readers/viewers shift online. Democracy is endangered when citizens do not read reasonable voices they disagree with, and just live in an echo-chamber of partisan or tribal advocates. I was raised reading conservative newspaper columnists like George Will, William F. Buckley, James J. Kilpatrick, as well as liberal newspaper columnists like Anthony Lewis, Mary McGrory, and Tom Wicker. That doesn’t seem to happen much anymore.
Hyper-partisan media outlets such as Newsmax, WND.com, Breitbart, The Daily Caller and the misnamed Western Journalism are essentially propaganda and advocacy organizations, without credible journalistic standards. It’s no wonder that Republicans are in a constant state of rage if they depend almost solely on these online outlets and Fox News.
On Facebook I follow the postings of a Republican activist. She’s posting frequently from these far-out outlets about how most if not all Muslims are terrorists, the Clintons are criminals equal to mafia dons, Obama and liberals hijacked Martin Luther King Day and African Americans are not smart enough to see their real interests, the Iran deal was a sell-out of American interests; Bengazi, Bengazi, Bengazi; Obama economy is a disaster because stock market has declined recently and Walmart is closing stores; Hillary and Obama despise Israel, “Obama Cowers as Iran Seizes US Navy Ships” (Ooops, a rush to judgment that goes unacknowledged. They were released within 18 hours.)
Indeed, moderate Republican legislators complain that their constituents are misinformed and far more likely to believe propaganda, and to express rigidly uncompromising and impractical views than a decade ago. See my previous post, “Republican Lemmings in Suicide Vests.”
“Years ago, most of the news people got was local, so local issues dominated their news consumption,” Mr. Tyler said. “Today people get most of their news from New York-centric news organizations that focus on national and international stories.”
“People are more likely to know what’s going on a thousands of miles away than they are a mile down the street,” he added.
Did Media Help Create Trump? NO.