2020 election proves we are broken
The election isn’t decided yet but we can make a few conclusions.
Good news = voters are engaged.
Bad news = it’s for the wrong reasons.
We are incredibly polarized.
I covered this for CJR, writing, "we must learn to reflect a polarized nation."
CNN, like many other cable news networks, has still not found a way to account for the fact that we’re an incredibly polarized nation. And the big picture of its election coverage was that, as a result, it failed to represent what was happening.
There was huge turnout. The conventional wisdom was that they were turning out for Biden. Which they did. But they were also turning out for Trump. And perhaps we didn’t realize that in part because of the divisive tone that CNN insists on striking.
Trump supporters have been stigmatized to the point that it’s not surprising that they might not be honest with pollsters or journalists. And pollsters and journalists have no way to account for that.
The answer to that is not more balanced coverage in order to favor one party or the other. It’s fuller coverage, so that voters are better informed. And more than anything, the tone has to be tempered so we’re not living in parallel universes.
There’s a serious disconnect in this country and cable "news" across the board must accept responsibility at least for part of that. Many are surprised today but shouldn’t be. Everyone could and should have known how likely it was to be a very close election. Sadly, 2020 has been a repeat of 2016. The flawed coverage prior helped lead to results that shocked many voters and even some analysts. They did not know that Trump’s message resonated with so many.
Divisive content, driven mostly for profit, prevents the flow of civic dialogue. It will only get worse unless the systemic issues are addressed within the financial structure of the industry. The "news" is broken. Today is a reflection of that, but let's hope it's not beyond repair. Personally, I think it can and must be fixed.