Dot’s Reading Room: Ideological Extremists Grab Media Attention and Distort Issue Debate

Today’s article from The Conversation says Congressional members who espouse extreme positions get a lot of airtime and exposure but their actual impact on Congress isn’t all that great. The authors write:

In recent work, we showed that extremely conservative and extremely liberal legislators receive far more airtime on cable and broadcast news than their moderate counterparts.

“Robust local news outlets once held legislators to account by covering whether they delivered for their districts. But as local news has declined, voters are turning to national media outlets for their political news. There, ideological outliers now set the tone of the debate, distorting perceptions of the important issues and warping Americans’ views of their political option.

“We found that the House that’s shown on the news is much more ideologically extreme than the actual House. When we divided representatives into five equal groups by ideology, we found that the most extreme groups on each end of the political spectrum were most often given airtime.

“It’s no surprise that on TV news, conflict and drama sell. But it doesn’t help democracy.”

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