This bit in Axios’ morning email thingie starts off well, but then goes into well-worn turf. See if you can spot the razor blade in the apple:
There are lots of reasons American politics went off the rails, but Axios CEO Jim VandeHei breaks out six seminal events in the past 24 years that steered us here:
- Newt Gingrich, in the early 1990s, weaponized warfare politics in a methodical and sustained way. In tactics and rhetoric, Gingrich ushered in a good-vs.-evil style that persists today.
- Fox News, created in 1996, televised and monetized this hard-edged combat politics. This created the template for MSNBC to do the same on the left, giving both sides a place to fuel and fund rage 24/7. CNN soon went heavy on politics, all day, making governance a show in need of drama.
- Facebook and later Twitter, both products of the post-2000 Internet revolution, socializedrage and argument. Now every nut with an opinion could find fans and followers to cheer/egg him or her on. This happened as the middle in politics was officially purged from Congress.
- John McCain picking Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 celebritized rage politics. Until that moment, Republicans typically picked conventional, next-in-line candidates. Palin, made for cable and social media, was the precursor to Trump.
- Facebook, with command of so much of most voters’ time and attention, algorithm-ized rage starting around 2015. The more emotion you felt and sought, the more the newsfeed machine pumped at you. With no one looking, fake news was born and metastasizing.
- Twitter + Trump, igniting in 2016, habitualized and radicalized the moment-by-moment rage and reaction of politicians, voters and the media. This created more froth and more fog, and resulted in a spike of people who don’t believe real news, much less the fake news pulsing through the system.
Now, all of this has been institutionalized. No wonder people don’t trust, like or believe politicians — or often each other.
MSNBC is many things, but it is not the liberal’s equivalent of Fox News, and in fact have made a point of hiring refugees from Fox. It’s astonishing to me how hard the media’s apologists try to balance the outrages of the right by throwing in some dust and saying that the liberals are just as bad.