• November 29, 2023

CNN, Fox, and MSNBC blamed ‘very strongly’ for dividing nation

 CNN, Fox, and MSNBC blamed ‘very strongly’ for dividing nation

by Paul Bedard

The exit of President Trump from the national stage won’t heal the division in America for three simple reasons: CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.

The exit of President Trump from the national stage won’t heal the division in America for three simple reasons: CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.

According to the unique “Civility Poll” from Georgetown University’s Institute for Politics and Public Service, it is those three cable networks driving much of the division and profiting mightily off it, making it unlikely that they’ll change tone once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

All three came in high when 800 registered voters were asked who they blame for “bad behavior in American politics.”

Fox led with 78% saying it was “very” to “somewhat” to blame, followed by CNN at 67% and MSNBC at 61%. When broken down along political lines, 73% of Republicans blamed CNN, second only to social media giants Facebook and Twitter. Some 61% of Democrats blamed Fox, behind Trump and GOP leaders.


Overall, social media platforms, special interests, and Trump led the reasons for incivility in the poll done jointly by the teams behind the famous Battleground Poll, headed by Democrat Celinda Lake and Republican Ed Goeas.

But Trump, of course, is leaving office, social media platforms only act to broadcast the voices of partisans, and special interests always make the list because voters hate them.

As a result, Goeas said that it is cable TV news that can change and act to unify U.S. politics.


In his memo describing the results, he wrote: “Given how important earned media has become for politicians of all sides, there needs to be change here. Right now, grandstanding can drive earned media which can drive highly successful online fundraising, while all too often, grinding away on a consensus deal yields no more than kind words in private from colleagues. We need to move to a political environment where voters, media, and political leaders celebrate the sober work of successful governing with more enthusiasm than they celebrate grandstanding with no purpose other than self-promotion.”


But he later hinted at the difficulty of shifting gears by the cable networks since bias pays.

“Right now, it pays to be the place for news that supports the point of view of your viewers, but this is a poor outcome for the country. Just as our political leaders should acknowledge and give credit when those across the aisle take brave actions to increase political civility, there needs to be a similar incentive for the cable news channels to highlight the good actions of both sides and not be an echo chamber for one side,” he said.

In a briefing on the poll, he said that the three cable networks have a responsibility to shift out of the “demagoguery” of the Trump years and tell the story straight.

“There is a responsibility besides just our leaders to take that deep breath and to move there. And I think that falls very strongly on, quite frankly, cable news networks,” said Goeas, one of Washington’s most respected pollsters.

“Sometimes, when you look at the three cable networks, everything after eight o’clock at night is pure demagoguery. And everyone is going to that silo. So, I think what I walk away from this data is yes, if we want this country to become more civil, more respectful in our discussions, a lot of it falls on our leaders, but a lot of it falls on the cable networks to play maybe a little bit different role and not push their version of the truth but try to get to the true truth. And I think all three cable networks from time to time fall into that trap of pushing their own version of the truth,” he said.

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From the Civility Poll analysis of Ed Goeas and Brian Nienaber.

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