February 17, 2017
Is the media really more divided than ever?
by Kait Howard
One positive aspect of the fallout from the election, if there can be said to be any, is that the liberal media that was so sure of a Clinton victory seems to be stepping back to analyze itself.
On Tuesday, for example, the New York Times’ Sydney Ember took the coverage of Michael T. Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser as an opportunity to compare the vastly different approaches of left- and right-wing media, the former “centered on what Mr. Flynn had done that led to his resignation,” and the latter “on the leaks from Washington that had put pressure on Mr. Flynn to step aside.”
Ember then proceeds to break down, in varying degrees of detail, the approach taken by right-leaning organizations such as Fox News and the intellectually dubious Breitbart News, compared to the left-leaning organizations that have been credited, in the liberal Twitter-sphere, for aggressive reporting that led to Flynn’s resignation. What’s interesting about this exercise, she writes, is not that it reveals divisions between the left and right, but that “the rift between the mainstream media and more partisan news organizations has grown starker in the nearly four weeks since Mr. Trump took office, reflecting a widening political and ideological rift.”
The growing division means that some readers are getting their news through an ever-narrowing prism. Americans who get their information predominantly from Breitbart News, a right-wing news and opinion site, for instance, or from the conservative Fox News are getting a very different version of the news from Americans who read The Washington Post or watch CNN.
But is that really true? Did Fox take a more moderate approach during the campaign and then suddenly swerve off to the right?
Or could it be that those on the left are only just beginning to pay attention? It’s certainly heartening to see the Times taking a close look at the way the Flynn debacle was covered across the spectrum—even if that means taking the opinion pieces that Breitbart peddles as news seriously—but it also makes them look suspiciously ignorant of the narratives that thrive, and have thrived for some time, outside the so-called mainstream.
Kait Howard is a publicist at Melville House.