Overwhelming Majority Think Media Encourage Political Division

October 19th, 2010 2:18 PM

On Sunday, I examined the causes of the nation's toxic political atmosphere and amongst other things accused the press of fanning the fires of discontent.

Two days later, an ABC News/Yahoo News poll reported by Michael Calderone found 63 percent of Americans believe the mainstream media are more interested in encouraging political division than cooperation between the Parties:

Just 30 percent of respondents believe the mainstream media is interested in political cooperation, according to a new ABC News/ Yahoo! News poll; 63 percent say reporters help stoke division.

Journalists have long been criticized for chasing after scandals and controversy. But the poll is noteworthy for showing just how much the public considers the media a factor in creating the current divisiveness in American politics.

Partisan talkers didn't fare much better than mainstream reporters. Conservative radio hosts also clocked in at 30 percent in terms of cooperation, with 61 percent saying they help foster division. Cable news programs came in at 29 percent for cooperation, 59 percent for division.

ABC on Tuesday published its own analysis as well as a PDF file of the polling data with questions. Interestingly, the only names in the questionnaire were Barack Obama's and Sarah Palin's.

Why might that be? After all, Palin is neither in nor running for office this year. 

If you wanted to look at how the public viewed the cooperative versus divisive nature of powerful people in the land, why not ask what respondents felt about the current Vice President, Speaker of the House, and Senate Majority leader?

And they wonder why 63 percent of the country feel the mainstream media are encouraging political division.