Dividing America

How political commentators split the country

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Dividing America

Danny Gilbane, Guest Writer

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I was walking through the library the other day when I saw a kid watching CNN Tonight on Youtube. I only noticed this because he was not wearing headphones. I was less concerned with him not having headphones and more concerned with his thoughts on what he was watching.  Walking up to him, I posed a simple question: “What are you watching?” 

His response told me everything that is wrong with American journalism. 

“I am watching the news,” he said.

  What do Tucker Carlson (Fox News) , Ben Shapiro (Daily Wire), Don Lemon (CNN) , Jim Acosta (CNN), and so many other TV “news” hosts have in common? 

They are not journalists. Or at least not anymore. 

Some of them once were acclaimed journalists. But the more famous the journalist they are, the less likely they actually are a journalist. All the names I listed above are what the news industry calls political commentators. 

They are the elusive force that divides America. They essentially get paid to voice their opinions and rob you of yours. When you watch these commentators, they are not trying to deliver the news, they are trying to impose their partisan viewpoints onto you. 

Real news assumes you are smart enough to take the facts and form your own opinion. In the words of a famed political commentator, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” 

So why should America’s news industry share their feelings and the facts?

Why did we let America’s news industry divide us so much?

 We stopped watching real journalism. In the first 30 years of television, there were three news channels: ABC, NBC, and CBS

These channels competed for viewership, not by sensationalizing the news but by broadcasting to the most local stations across the country. 

The clear winner of this strategy was CBS, and they had their star anchor, Walter Cronkite

No matter if you were a Democrat or a Republican, you went home and watched Cronkite who was renowned for his unbiased coverage of watergate and the resulting resignation. This was the last political scandal that would be covered from an unbiased angle. 

People stopped watching the news. 

Cable television came and took America by storm. Channels like CBS now had to compete with shows like The Tonight Show or SNL for viewership. 

Ted Turner came up with a great idea. What if he created a 24-hour news network made for cable? The idea caught traction and the cable news network now known as CNN was formed. 

CNN excelled in delivering news to liberal America, but conservatives had better things than the news to worry about. As the political pendulum swung, a generation of conservatives began to retire. 

Rubert Murdoch saw a chance to make money. The repeal of a law that made bias illegal in journalism was just a further sign that this was wanted. 

Murdoch invited Roger Ailes of the GOP to start a conservative news network aimed at an older generation. Their brainchild was Fox News, and boy was it a game-changer. Where CNN had been failing to attract all day viewers, Fox thrived. 

They invited conservative pundits and would have their opinion pieces broadcast at prime time. All of a sudden every bar, airport, and boardroom in the United States was playing the more moderate Fox news daytime broadcast delivering 24-hour news. At the end of a long workday, conservatives would turn on their own personal news network. 

CNN realized they needed to play to liberals if they wanted to still exist and slowly but surely America grew more divided. 

The result of this was a highly divided 24-hour news cycle that was based on outrage and hypocrisy. Many people were sick of the opinion pieces. One of the people sick of the polarized shtick was Tucker Carlson. 

Carlson began his news career as a praised journalist. Both Democrats and Republicans could take away the facts from his work. In 2003 he even spoke out against political commentators and their hypocrisy. 

In one, now ironic video, he criticized Bill O’Reilly saying “Bill O’Reilly is really talented. He’s more talented than I am. But I think there’s a deep phoniness at the center of his shtick.” This is made more ironic by the fact that he would end up taking Bill O’Reilly’s show 13 years later.

It’s not just Tucker Carlson. It’s political commentary in general. News networks will take highly successful journalists and pay them to broadcast their opinions as facts. There are countless examples of the same story. Don Lemon, Jim Acosta, Ben Shapiro and many more were at one point, unbiased journalists. But opinion sells better. Our minds want our opinions to be rationalized and not just told the facts. In our unconscious search for belonging we lose something. We lose unity. 

I urge all of our readers to seek out the truth. Don’t sell your thought process short by using political commentary to justify your opinion. Be the truth seeker. When the citizens of a society as great as the United States lose the ability to think for themselves and become reliant on their news to justify their opinions, that is when America will no longer be united.