News media fail the public when they treat politics as a game

Today's political climate is increasingly reminiscent of the militarization of politics that preceded Hitler’s coming to power in Germany. The default position of the news media is still to focus on politics as sport.



November 7, 2022 - 2:50 PM

Two dogs play at a polling station during early voting ahead of the US midterm elections in Los Angeles, California, on Nov. 1, 2022. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

“Wake up, America! Wake up!” John Lewis shouted at the 1963 March on Washington.

That message is even more needed today, in the final stages of the most critical election for the survival of the American experiment since 1864. What was at stake then, during the war to put down the enslavers’ rebellion, was, as Lincoln had said two years earlier, whether “we shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth.”

Those words precisely describe where we are nearly 160 years later. Today, America’s future hangs on the defeat of the right-wing extremist authoritarians who have seized the name of Lincoln’s party. If we lose, news corporations and journalists with a misplaced sense of “balance,” “neutrality” and “nonpartisanship” will bear a considerable share of the blame.

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