Diana C. Mutz, Director of the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics at the Annenberg Public Policy Center and Professor of Communication and Political Science at the Annenberg School, appeared yesterday on ABC's 20/20 to discuss the growing political divide in this country. Host George Stephanopoulos told his audience that the U.S. political establishment is more polarized than at any time in the past century.
Mutz described the role of the media in feeding the divide between conservatives and liberals in this country. With a huge range of media choices today, Americans can self-select what they want to hear, reinforcing their beliefs rather than broadening them with differing viewpoints. Because conflict rather than calm discussion draws more viewers, "shout TV" is increasingly dominating coverage of public policy and politics. Lost in the hyperbole is a respect for opposing viewpoints, Mutz told Stephanopoulos. The growth of partisan blogs is only fueling the liberal/conservative divide.
Mutz is the author of Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative vs. Participatory Democracy, published in March by Cambridge University Press.