Part 1: A bipartisan list of people who are bad for America09 Jul 2017
Imagine that alien researchers visited America to learn about our political culture. If they wrote a report to send back to their planet, I imagine it would look something like this:
Earthlings in this nation have split themselves up into two opposing political “parties”. Most of the Earthlings who associate with these groups are well-intentioned, but occasionally some members of a party do something bad or say something dumb. Whenever this happens, members of the opposite side feel good about themselves.
Certain writers and media personalities have learned to exploit this fact for personal gain. They have found that they can maximize their TV ratings and social media points by writing news stories that either cherry pick the worst actions of the other side or which interpret the other side’s actions in the least charitable way possible. As a result, Earthling news readers have developed increasingly distorted beliefs about their political opponents. Craving a pleasant feeling of righteous outrage, Earthlings seek ever more biased media, leading to even more distorted beliefs. The two sides do not understand each other. The civic culture of the society is broken.
Below is a bipartisan list of people who are stoking partisan outrage for personal gain. Some of them do it for retweets, some of them do it for TV ratings, and some of them – still culpable – do it because they have entered a filter bubble themselves, fueling their own distorted and harmful sense of mission.
- Sean Davis (The Federalist) His Twitter account is deliberately uncharitable.
- Sopan Deb (New York Times) During the presidential campaign, his Twitter feed was nonstop, “look what this stupid Trump supporter said”.
- Stephen Miller (The Wilderness, ex-NRO)
- Chris Cillizza (The Washington Post)
- Sean Hannity (Fox News)
- Tucker Carlson (Fox News)
- Samantha Bee I know, she’s a comedian. I like jokes. But given how many people get their news from selectively edited comedy shows, it’s fair to say that comedians bear some responsibility.
- John Oliver (HBO) It pains me to include him on this list, since he is funny and since his show also includes some constructive policy explainers. But much of the content is selectively edited clips that paint a very distorted picture of the other side.
- Rachel Maddow (MSNBC)
- Shaun King (Facebook personality)
- Greg Gutfeld (Fox News comedian)
It doesn’t matter if some of the people on this list do accurate reporting. What matters is that their reporting is selective. It doesn’t matter if some of the people on this list support some good policy ideas. What matters is that listening to them will destroy your brain’s ability to understand where the other side is coming from. And it doesn’t matter if one side is more filter-bubbled than the other. Both sides are badly filter-bubbled. Avoiding the people in this list is a good place to start.
In Part 2, I’ll post a bipartisan list of people who argue in good faith.