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People also read Article. O'Reilly argued that the decision was a "sorry sordid little petty political maneuver" designed by the Obama administration to embarrass Bush administration officials. The goal was to put President Bush—and the enhanced interrogation techniques used by his administration—on trial The O'Reilly Factor , 13 November Watching O'Reilly's show, or many other similar programs on Fox News, one would see few reasons to support the Obama administration's decision and far more reasons to oppose it.

Indeed, given the flawed logic of the decision, one might wonder how anyone could support it at all. Other outlets gave a similarly one-sided frame, but from the opposite perspective, defending the administration's decision to try Mohammed in a civilian court.

On Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, the host offered a more liberal perspective, arguing that "our law beats their terror," and the best way to defend the American system of government was to give terrorists trials in civilian courts. This would allow the entire world to see that we treated all of the accused fairly—even self-proclaimed terrorists-thereby offering a profound lesson in America's belief in justice and the rule of law Countdown with Keith Olbermann , 16 November MSNBC hosts and guests also argued that civilian trials offer a more effective means of convicting terrorism suspects.

From this perspective, one might imagine that it is difficult to oppose the Obama administration's decision, in sharp contrast to the inference one might draw after watching Fox. They gave quite contrasting perspectives and arguments about why their opinion is the superior one and why their argument should carry the day.

First, they both offer primarily one-sided arguments that advantage their own position, with plenty of opinionated commentary from the hosts, leaving no doubt as to where they stand on the issue. While they do discuss the opposing side's arguments, it is mostly to criticize them. The choice of guests only rein forces this tendency.

Political polarization - Wikipedia

While there are obviously some exceptions to this policy, the norm is that hosts and guests agree, making these shows almost like an "echo chamber" of similar opinions Jamieson and Cappella , offering a particular partisan perspective on the day's news and events. On Fox, hosts and guests offered stern criticism of President Obama and his decision. Former Bush administration official and current Fox News commentator Karl Rove argued that the decision would be "an utter, unmitigated disaster for the security of the United States" The O'Reilly Factor , 13 November Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, said that Holder's decision was an "indefensible and insufficient way to defend the nation" Hannity , 16 November Such comments are not only critical of this particular decision, but are used to illustrate a deeper, more fundamental critique of the president, namely, that he is an out-of-touch liberal—Rove argued that the president is "fundamentally way out on the left wing of American politics" The O'Reilly Factor , 24 November and that while this decision in particular is flawed, it also demonstrates a consistent pattern of poor judgment.

Keith Olbermann and his guests argued that Republican criticisms of the president were little more than "situational scaremongering" Countdown with Keith Olbermann , 16 November Commentators here argued that Republican criticisms were motivated by efforts to score political points by frightening the public with the specter of terrorism: "This isn't about security. It's about political gain" The Ed Show , 13 November Watching the Fox programs above, one would have questioned President Obama's ability to lead.

This situation is not unique to this particular case. As I will show in later chapters, on issue after issue, cable news networks, most especially Fox News and MSNBC, present starkly different interpretations of the day's stories.

How Partisan Media Polarize America ( Chicago Studies in American Politics) (Paperback)

While traditional news outlets still emphasize balance and objectivity, these partisan media outlets provide a more one-sided take on the day's events. Ordinary citizens can align their news consumption with their ideological and partisan leanings by watching these shows—Democrats and liberals can tune in to shows on MSNBC, and Republicans and conservatives can flip to Fox News. Increasingly, more and more Americans choose to do just that: Americans now consume more partisan media than they did in the past Pew Research Center for the People and the Press , and they are especially likely to consume ideologically congenial media that matches their partisan outlook Iyengar and Han ; Stroud News is no longer simply information; it can now be a reflection of one's political beliefs.

Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, said that Holder's decision was an "indefensible and insufficient way to defend the nation" Hannity , 16 November Such comments are not only critical of this particular decision, but are used to illustrate a deeper, more fundamental critique of the president, namely, that he is an out-of-touch liberal—Rove argued that the president is "fundamentally way out on the left wing of American politics" The O'Reilly Factor , 24 November and that while this decision in particular is flawed, it also demonstrates a consistent pattern of poor judgment.

Keith Olbermann and his guests argued that Republican criticisms of the president were little more than "situational scaremongering" Countdown with Keith Olbermann , 16 November Commentators here argued that Republican criticisms were motivated by efforts to score political points by frightening the public with the specter of terrorism: "This isn't about security. It's about political gain" The Ed Show , 13 November Watching the Fox programs above, one would have questioned President Obama's ability to lead. This situation is not unique to this particular case.

As I will show in later chapters, on issue after issue, cable news networks, most especially Fox News and MSNBC, present starkly different interpretations of the day's stories. While traditional news outlets still emphasize balance and objectivity, these partisan media outlets provide a more one-sided take on the day's events.

Ordinary citizens can align their news consumption with their ideological and partisan leanings by watching these shows—Democrats and liberals can tune in to shows on MSNBC, and Republicans and conservatives can flip to Fox News. Increasingly, more and more Americans choose to do just that: Americans now consume more partisan media than they did in the past Pew Research Center for the People and the Press , and they are especially likely to consume ideologically congenial media that matches their partisan outlook Iyengar and Han ; Stroud News is no longer simply information; it can now be a reflection of one's political beliefs.

When subjects consume this sort of partisan media, they primarily hear an echo of their own beliefs and consequently also avoid dissonant information that cuts against their political opinions Jamieson and Cappella When Republicans watch Fox News, they hear many conservative and Republican messages but far fewer liberal or Democratic ones; the reverse is true of Democrats who watch more left-wing media. This sort of reinforcing message might make subjects become more extreme, since they hear their own side's messages repeated to them without any countervailing arguments.

Such programs, therefore, might potentially polarize the electorate Sunstein Further, because these programs harshly criticize the other side, viewers might come to have less respect for the opposition and become less willing to compromise with them, and see them as less legitimate. So viewers watching these shows might come to think the opposition is untrustworthy and merits ridicule rather than respect Jamieson and Hardy Such tendencies potentially have normatively troubling consequences.

America's constitutional system, with its multiple veto points and separation of powers, requires compromise. People can be passionate about issues and stand firm in their beliefs, but they have to be willing to compromise for American government to work effectively. Absent such compromise, the system is biased toward the status quo, and society fails to make necessary changes to policy Gutmann and Thompson , If partisan media harden citizens' beliefs and make them unwilling to compromise with and listen to the other side, then partisan media have deleterious consequences for American politics.

Our contemporary political discourse is filled with claims that Americans—both masses and elites—are increasingly unwilling to compromise. Indeed, some have gone so far as to claim that it is "almost impossible" to achieve consensus solutions on important policy issues in the contemporary political environment Price Do partisan media bear part of the blame for this division?


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Do they make it more difficult to actually govern in America? To know whether partisan media have these troubling normative consequences, I need to address four related questions.