The Two Rivers of US Media Are Tearing Us Apart
Author: Hugh Hewit
In late 1811 and early 1812, the town of New Madrid in the Missouri territory was hammered by three major earthquakes. “The ground heaved and pitched, hurling furniture, snapping trees and destroying barns and homesteads,” wrote Elizabeth Rusch in Smithsonian Magazine. “Sections of riverbed below the Mississippi rose so high that part of the river ran backward.”
Like those earthquakes, the election of 2016 produced two “rivers” in U.S. media. The Donald Trump earthquake seems to have hastened the final split of American media into two very distinct waters, with very little irrigation connecting them. One of those rivers is thoroughly inundated with anti-Trump, #NeverTrump debris and sediment. The other is almost wholly free of those ingredients.
It isn’t just cable news, though MSNBC and CNN are mostly in the former and Fox News almost wholly in the latter. The “two rivers” effect is mostly the result of the self-selected flows we direct ourselves to via Twitter feeds and chosen for us by Facebook’s and Google’s almighty algorithms. News consumers have to consciously seek out the other wellspring to make sure they aren’t isolated from 40 percent of the country’s views and heartfelt beliefs.