In the aftermath of John Stewart's Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear and the recent 2-day suspension of Keith Olberman for unauthorized political contributions, some of us have started thinking a bit about the role of the media in American political discourse. How has that role changed? What should that role be?
Stewart got beat up by liberal pundits after his rally for committing the apparently unforgivable sin of "false equivalency," or painting liberal and conservative media with the same broad brush. He spoke with Rachel Maddow recently, and they went back and forth for over an hour. In my opinion, she consistently misunderstands him, and the distinctions she makes about how MSNBC is different from Fox News (other than the obvious) aren't really convincing. Both of them get it wrong in their belief that Fox News supported George W. Bush no matter what; they seem to forget about the immigration debate and TARP. If you have an hour, though, it is a great interview to watch.
I can't wait to hear what Olberman and Maddow have to say about this opinion column in The Washington Post by Ted Koppel. Much like Stewart, he blames the polarization of the media for the increasing polarization of American political discourse. With journalistic ethics and in-depth coverage seemingly going out the window in favor of profits and cheap talk, there can be no national conversation. Two sides trying to shout louder than each other is what television cable news gives us. No one really hears anything. And nothing really gets accomplished.
Gridlock is in the air, America. The Constitution was written in such a way that compromise between opposing sides is necessary in order to pass legislation. If the polarized media on each side continues to encourage an American citizenry which refuses to allow their elected leaders to compromise, nothing can be done, and the status quo, however ineffective, unjust, or incompetent will remain firmly in place.