Debunking Fisher's View of the Polarized News Market

Course: Communication and Society

Written: February 14, 2014 
Published: January 10, 2017
© All Rights Reserved

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

– British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli

I disagree with Fisher’s premise that the political process has been altered because of how Americans get their news. I also disagree that citizens are isolating themselves to view news they already agree with. Actually, Fisher oversimplifies the political process and results. Let’s not forget that Marc Fisher is apart of the media machine. He gets paid to spin a particular agenda.

The first reason Fisher's argument is weak: it fails to take into account other variables (family, ideologies, gender, religion, region, race, and ethnicity) that impact the political process. In the real world, what people read and look at is different from how they vote at the poles. Simply put, the old idiom that ‘what people say and do are different things’ rings true. Stephanie Pappas, a writer for Live Science supports this best:

“But, crucially, people vastly overestimate how polarized the American public is— a tendency toward exaggeration that is especially strong in the most extreme Democrats and Republicans” (para. 2).

The second reason Fisher's argument is incomplete: he believes polarization divides ideologies in only three distinct categories: Republican, Democrat and the Tea Party. In the real world, political party ideologies overlap between social and fiscal issues. Fisher implies that once you’re Republican, you’ll only look at Republican-leaning sources and vice versa. Fisher is wrong.

For an example, in the comments section, you’ll often find conservative comments on a liberal news source and vice versa. Conservatives are viewing liberal sources. Liberals are viewing conservative sources. Why? We are a free society and people are not as naïve as the article suggests.

An article by Bianca Bosker also debunks Fisher’s argument: “People with relatively extreme political views not only viewed more extreme sites, but also spent more time on centrist sites and even sites that diverged with their points of view” (Bosker, para.8).

Ultimately, when votes are cast—family, ideologies, gender, religion, region, race, and ethnicity—impact the political process on Election Day. Not polarization.

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