I’m starting to think the concept of the liberal media as being irrelevant. I mean, I think it’s possible certain news outlets or publications have agendas that perhaps color the stories that are published and the items chosen, but not to the level of the conservative mantra. Pre-internet, maybe. Pre-newspaper collapse, ok. But if you ask me, the conservative media is doing just fine holding its own these days. It’s hard to cry liberal media-bias when Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Drudge Report go toe-to-toe with MSNBC, Bill Maher and Huffington Post.
If it’s The New York Times and Washington Post that conservatives are worried about, the readership and circulation issues must calm their nerves a bit. I know that the country isn’t more conservative today than any other time in our history, but people are consuming the media in a more specialized way. As a result, radio, podcasting and blogging is competing with or at least challenging previous notions of a bias media.
I wonder what this will mean for the future. I question whether part of the response of the “Tea Partiers” is simply the result of many individuals having better access to specific content than ever before. If so, it stands to reason that we could see more and more splintering within political parties or interest groups that previously stood united.
We can assume that people have always identified with many different viewpoints across our cultural and political spectrum, but prior to the explosion of information and technology, they did not have access to others like them. As a result, it is interesting to imagine what this new right to “e-ssembly” online can do for American politics and how Americans view politics. Prior to this freedom, it was much easier for the world to be divided into two groups – liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, and majority and minority. Today, we have the ability to connect to one-issue groups, enclaves within political parties (think Log Cabin Republicans) or specialized networks of like-minded voters.
Newspapers, and people in general, were much more comfortable self-selecting into two poles.
Political viewpoints have often had interest groups or trade associations to promote their political welfare in Washington, D.C. Now, there are just as many issue sites for “regular people” to support their issue of choice. Are the Tea Party supporters simply a fiscal conservative interest group for the middle class? In the past, I believe I’ve jumped to quickly to the possibility of a third party instead of understanding that smaller, specific interest groups are emerging onto the national landscape.
I wish that Republicans and Democrats would recognize this fact and open to the idea that the country is becoming more diverse. Not just diversity represented in race or religion, but diversity of issues. Diversity of thought in believing and combining issues in new, different ways. The way we support issues and the way we organize our political beliefs is changing. Whichever party can recognize this and become more flexible to respond to the changing way people support politics will be more successful in the next decade.
It doesn’t feel like either party is interested in flexibility or responsiveness but one is certainly trying harder than the other. Either way, the current bitterness evidenced by loyalists within the two parties is balanced on both sides. This is reflected in the media coverage. I think the “liberal media” of the ‘90s has been replaced by the politically active media of the ‘00s and will now be replaced by the specialized, self-selected media of the ‘10s.