Bill Maher recently said that Fox News was to blame for the polarization of America. Fox’s The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld agrees, but doesn’t think that’s such a bad thing.
The segment started because of this line from Bill Maher, “I feel like the reason people are so polarized is Fox News. I think of all the things that changed America, Fox News changed the most.”
Greg Gutfeld replied, saying,
“He’s right! If it weren’t for Fox News everyone would be in lock-step because the rest of the media is as compliant as pizza dough, so Maher is really whining about competition, we’d all get along if we just agreed with him. It’s a nostalgia shared by the President harkening back to when liberals owned the playing field, the teams, the refs, the cheerleaders. So now a new team arrives, FNC [Fox News Network] kicks your butt and you scream polarization.”
Jerry Seinfeld disagrees with both Bill Maher and Gutfeld, saying,
“I think you do have a better argument that each side just talks to its side, just listens to its side, that’s polarizing, to blame it all on Fox News doesn’t seem completely fair.”
It’s impossible to say with certainty why the U.S. is “polarized,” but Bill Maher may be right to call attention to the issue since political polarization is more extreme than at any time in the 20th and 21st centuries. Paul DiMaggio of Princeton University attempted to define polarization as
“Cases in which an individual’s stance on a given issue, policy, or person is more likely to be strictly defined by their identification with a particular political party.”
The abstract idea can be hard to measure, except in congress, where nearly all moderates have disappeared. According to a Natural Journal study, Congress has become so divided that the most right-wing Democrat is more liberal than the most left-wing Republican. Meaning that there is no common ground.
However, rising polarization is a trend, and despite Bill Maher’s comments, the trend seems to have started before the controversial news network was created. According to graphs from Voteview.com, America started becoming divided in the early to mid-80s, but Rupert Murdoch created Fox News in 1996.
Unlike Bill Maher’s belief, it seems possible that Fox News was meant to sell to a growing right-wing audience, rather than creating the audience.
Greg Gutfeld ends his part of the segment saying,
“Maybe it’s time for us righties to move beyond confirming ideas and try some converting. The hot tube of agreement is comforting, but what is better is persuading others why it feels so good to be there.”
Maybe Gutfeld should start with one of the more difficult audiences that go on Bill Maher’s show.
[Image Credit: Angela George/Wikimedia Commons]