Monday, October 22, 2018

Media Shows U-S Split, New Study Says Not So

Cable news depicts a divided country, with talking heads fighting from the left and right on deeply polarizing political issues. But according to a new study, the United States might not be as split as the media portrays.

CNN reports More in Common, an initiative dedicated to understanding political polarization, recently released the results of their project called "The Hidden Tribes of America."

They found that 67% of the country is what the organization calls the "Exhausted Majority," a group that is displeased by America's polarization and would like for people to find a common ground.

"There's a tremendous anxiety about the division and a sense with the majority of people that their voice isn't being heard," Tim Dixon, co-founder of More in Common, told Brian Stelter in the latest Reliable Sources podcast. "That it's these strident, hateful, often uncompromising us versus them voices" that are receiving attention.

Tim Dixon
Dixon cited the Brett Kavanaugh hearings as an example of the majority's distress. Their research found that 70% of people said they blame both the left and the right for the conflict over his nomination.

"There is a tendency I think for the whole nature of the political polarization to become so distasteful that there's a large number of people who are just stepping back from it altogether and just sort of don't want to choose a side," Dixon said.

When asked by Stelter how much blame should be assigned to the media, Dixon said it's a significant factor in the country's tensions. More in Common has asked similar questions in different countries, and even though divisions exist elsewhere, respondents are not able to clearly say who they view as their enemy.

"I think the difference is partisan cable television came many years earlier in the United States than any other country, and I think that's really had a significant effect," Dixon said. The problem is that the partisan model seen on cable news makes money, he said.

Social media also plays a role in the problem. People tend to follow and be followed by others with the same opinions as them, and they're likely to receive backlash if they say something contrary to the typical beliefs of their side, Dixon said.

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