14 April 2012

Reality Based Politics - Problems with the Media

I noticed this report from NPR over on my FB news feed. A week or so ago I was on a panel here at the University of Rochester sponsored by various student groups. There were a bunch of folks from the community - mostly business types - in the audience. The panel was about the need for bi-partisanship and civility in American politics. My line is that bipartisanship is (following Ian Shapiro) collusion in restraint of democracy. I've said that here numerous times before. I also pointed out that the Republicans were the source of our polarization and that the entire problem mapped onto increasingly extreme political-economic inequality. I attributed all of that to McCarty-Poole-Rosenthal, pointing out that two at least of the authors are pretty right-leaning politically. I've said all that here before too.

At the panel the audience was more or less totally incredulous and made plain that they thought I was full of crap. The 'blame both sides' mentality is alive and well out in the hinterlands of Western NY - regardless of the actual state of the world! Why? Because, in part, even for stories like this one on the actual sources of polarization reporters feel obliged to run off and find a shill for the right from AEI to say 'both sides are at fault!' Even when there are not two sides to the story reporters feel the need to offer two. Are they simply idiots?

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