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Lee Hamilton: The media's responsibility to democracy

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    Lee Hamilton: The media's responsibility to democracy

    By LEE H. HAMILTON | 1 comment

    Politicians spend a good bit of their time complaining about the media. But why should they have all the fun?

    I’m going to join in, though I tend to get upset about different things than most sitting politicians do. You see, I don’t actually mind when journalists — whether in print, on television or online — treat what politicians say with skepticism. That means they’re doing their jobs.

    But this doesn’t happen nearly as much these days as it should. The media today is less objective, more ideological, and much showier than it once was. What you see can be eye-catching — both the graphics and the personalities — but it is also brash and relentlessly self-promoting. A lot of journalists don’t just want to report the news, they want to be players and affect policy. They see politics as a blood sport, often exaggerating the differences among players.
    As one observer said, the media is drawn to “superficiality, sensationalism, scandal, and sleaze.” They’re all too happy to seize on small points of contention and fan them into major points of discord. They make building a consensus — the key task of the democratic process — much harder.

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    It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in the minds of men - Samuel Adams
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