At a momentous time in the history of America, the divided political reality is rendered extremely murky by the very agents of communications upon which falls the duty of keeping the citizens of the nations informed. The differences between the so-called liberal press and the so-called conservative press are irreconcilable to an extent that middle-of-the-road Americans cannot fathom. On one side, the liberal press claim that the president was caught doing “something illegal at the direct expense of the country’s national interest”. On the other side, the rightist apologists hail a great victory in the House hearings for the president and the country over the “radical, socialist media mob”.
There was a time in the United States when citizens shared the information published in one or two city newspapers and later on by three television networks that basically saw eye to eye on many domestic and foreign events. What we have now is a situation in which Americans choose their own media environment on television, social media and less and less in newspapers. What is more striking is that they stick to one source and refuse to look at the opposite purveyor of news and commentary. This makes the outlets even more partisan, destroying not just the forming of a consensus but the very idea of media searching for the truth. The standing of the press, that once was known as the Fourth Estate and respected as a constitutionally sanctioned participant in the political life of the nation, has been thoroughly debased by the attacks on journalists as “enemy of the people”. This type of attack was the mainstay of enemies of democracy such as Stalin and Hitler.
What we have in the present political environment is the marriage of partisanship and ignorance that results in the refusal to accept facts as the basis for a political or electoral judgement. There is plenty of proof of this in the polls that analyze how Americans respond to the impeachment inquiry. One of the polls, the generally well regarded FiveThirtyEight, has argued that Democrats’ biggest challenge may not be persuading less-convinced Americans on the facts but getting them to pay attention in the first place. One may come to suspect that many Americans don’t pay attention because their minds are made up, and that the same attitude will persist when the Senate trial opens and closes with the lack of a quorum against the sitting president. In conclusion, it is fair to assume that whatever may come out of the House hearings and subsequently in the Senate trial will not change many minds. For sure, partisan votes in the House and the Senate will not be influenced by faith in the press as the guardian of the truth. Long ago, Oscar Wilde had it right when he said something that is today’s reality: “The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing”.