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bold emphasis is mine
“Politics has become more bitterly partisan and mean-spirited than I have seen in 30 years of writing a political newsletter,” attests Charlie Cook. What’s changed? Well, the two parties in Congress are more ideologically and geographically polarized than at any time in our recent history. But we’ve had deep divisions in our politics before. And yes, the Wingnuts seem to have an outsize influence on our politics debates. But we’ve had extremists in our politics before. What’s different is the proliferation of partisan media via cable news and the Internet. Amid unprecedented access to information, our fellow citizens are self-segregating themselves into separate political realities.
A few decades ago, politicians sent talking points to talk radio hosts. Today, talk radio hosts and online echo-chamber pundits send talking points to politicians. They keep their readers and listeners addicted to anger. The durable wisdom of the late, great Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan—“everyone is entitled to their own option, but not their own facts”—gets discarded when people come to political debates armed with their own facts. And in a time when the fringe blurs with the base and competitive congressional general elections are all but extinct thanks to the rigged system of redistricting, these base-corralling fanatics have the power to strike fear into the hearts of the gutless wonders on Capitol Hill.
That finding is a direct reflection of the original premise behind Roger Ailes pitching Fox News as “far and balanced.” For conservatives, only explicitly right-wing news organizations can be trusted to tell the truth. Any news group that aims for the elusive ideal of objectivity is de facto liberal, in their view. It’s an extension of an idea more appropriate in wartime: If you’re not with us, you’re against us.