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Politics

Insiders Like Boehner's Initial Tone, Blame Media for Tone of Discourse

January 20, 2011
Who has the most influence over the quality of political discourse?

Democrats
(91 votes)

Republicans
(90 votes)
Politicians 23% 27%
Media 59% 51%
The public 14% 19%
All the above (volunteered) 0% 1%
President Obama (volunteered) 0% 1%
Politicians and the media (volunteered) 4% 1%

There was an even stronger bipartisan Insider consensus this week on who has the most influence over the quality of political discourse: the media earned that dubious honor. Republican and Democratic Insiders alike said that the media determines who gets airtime and that they give disproportionate play to provocative and extreme voices in pursuit of higher ratings. Cable television and radio talk shows were singled out for criticism. "They control the traffic and drive the dialogue; the public and politicians just ride along," said a Democratic Insider. "The media's currency is conflict," added another. And a GOP Insider observed, "They determine specifically what to emphasize and inevitably they always take an anthill and make a mountain out of it."

The public and politicians were also held culpable. "Ultimately, the only people who control what comes out of a politician's mouth are the politicians," noted a Democratic Insider. And a GOP Insider said of the public: "In the end, they vote and select the channel."

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