Are we ever not in divided times? That’s the nature of democracy. Disagreement is the nature of any two-party or multi-party system. Yet, if one were to listen to the media, any media, one would naturally come to believe that we are living in the most apocalyptic, divided era since the American Civil War. Yet reality simply does not back that up. Clear, statistical evidence and political trends indicate that, for at least the last thirty years, the U.S. has been quite stable. But that is not the narrative we are force fed. Ever since Donald Trump’s famous escalator ride, right through his election to the Presidency, and onto today, we are told that we are living in tremendously divided times. And the culprit, the cause of all of this division? Of course, Donald Trump. But we are not that divided, and the degree to which we are is not President Trump’s fault. It’s the media, stupid.
The media will have us believe that Donald Trump is the single most divisive man in American history. Does anyone actually believe that conservatives weren’t, at the very least, equally as angry at Obama’s election as liberals were at Trump’s? Are liberals any more angry about Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch ascending to the Supreme Court than conservatives were about Kagan and Sotomayor? Of course not. But we’re told that we’re more divided than ever.
Take a look at the last four American Presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Each ascended to the Presidency with a large percentage of Americans voting for somebody else, three of the four (Clinton, Bush, and Trump) failing to capture 50% of the popular vote in their initial election. In Clinton’s case, 57% of voters chose someone else. Of Clinton, Obama, and Trump, all three won the White House with their party holding the House of Representatives. All three lost the House, by a landslide, in the first midterm election following their victory. According to Gallup, Clinton, Obama, and Trump have statistically identical approval ratings at the same point in their respective presidencies. The first two won re-election to the Presidency, the third remains probable. This trend has been going on for thirty years, but now we are supposed to believe that we are living in more divided times than ever? That is simply not the case, it’s the media that’s to blame.
LBJ once said, “If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: 'President Can't Swim.'”. Trump should be so lucky. We should be so lucky. A Pew Research study from 2017, the very onset of Trump’s Presidency, found that media coverage of Trump was overwhelmingly more negative, three times more negative, for Trump than for his Democratic predecessors. Trump received 62% negative media coverage compared to just 20% for Obama. And the trend has only gotten worse.
When, following the events of Charlottesville in 2017, Trump said there were good people on both sides of the Confederate statue historical debate, the media universally, falsely, and to this day, claimed he was praising white supremacy. This past week, while referring to his part in combating Chinese exploitation of America, Trump said he was “the chosen one” to fill the role, the media universally claimed he was referring to himself as the Messiah. In 2013 Newsweek ran a cover story on Obama with the headline, “The Second Coming”.
The inescapable truth is that the media serves as the communications division of the Democratic party. An increasingly leftward moving Democratic party. They have, for three years, called Trump a traitor and a Russian agent, his supporters white supremacists, and half of the country neo-Nazis. Then they claim that ‘we’ are more divided than ever, and Trump is to blame. When Justice Kavanaugh was nominated for the Supreme Court they called him a sex offender and NBC News covered up evidence discrediting claims against him. Still, the media says that ‘we’ are more divided than ever, and Trump is to blame.
The media seems to believe that they speak for all Americans and that all Americans are at each other’s throats. They wish to portray themselves as impartial purveyors of facts and not merely the attack dogs for a leftist ideology not even embraced by most Democrats. Then they say that ‘we’ are more divided than ever.
America is not more divided than ever. For thirty years we have been on a rather stable and predictable course of shifts in political support and power. Members of the media are the ones trying to divide everyone. They are the outliers and extremists. It’s the media stupid.