Polarizing media has impact on American viewers

Numerous studies have shown that partisan networks have impacted the way Americans watch television.  Since the invention of the 24 hour cable news network, cable television news has become a source of information for U.S. residents.  Between 1997 and 2005, the average primetime audience of the three primary news networks-Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, rose from 1.2 million to 2.8 million.  While it is not written in stone, it is a widely held belief that the three big news networks have political biases.  Fox is known to have a conservative bias while CNN and MSNBC are known to have liberal biases.  Partisan networks have made it easier for citizens to consume news to match their political predispositions.

The Pew Research Center conducted a survey showing the political identities of viewers that watch the three major cable news networks. ©Nick Erickson 2012

The recent changes in political media have made news subjective.  Even though humans strive for accuracy, their prior beliefs shape the way they see the world. As political scientist Matthew Levendusky says, “Partisan news programs are not primarily about conveying facts, they are about helping people make sense of the world given particular predispositions. These one-sided messages give viewers an easily digestible version of an otherwise confusing political world.”  Experts realize this, and they go into the world of entertainment to share their biases.  Bill O’Reilly’s O’Reilly Factor on Fox is an interview style show that brings in guests from many spectrums to discuss political issues.  This show is believed to have a large conservative bias.  Even Comedy Central dives into partisanship. Comedian John Stewart’s The Daily Show is a slap stick comedy that makes fun of political issues.  He is believed to have a liberal bias.

It is clearly difficult to hide from partisanship on television news.  Television over the years has made subjectivity a reality.  It has polarized America.

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