Cable TV News’ Obsession with Politics is Dividing Us All

The media doesn’t just tell us what to think, but what to think ABOUT. They prioritize our own thoughts for us and what we deem important as a news story in itself. Why do major cable news networks like CNN and Fox and MSNBC etc., constantly talk politics despite news happening all across the world that would surely be a higher priority?

There are a couple of obvious reasons, politics is one of the easiest stories to report — but not only that, it gets some of the most viewership. It requires the least amount of effort for some of the highest reward — ratings/viewership. Better yet, amp up the personality and partisanship to drive emotions and suddenly people are tuning in all the time, rotting in front of it. Continually aligning with it and allowing it to almost fully dictate what they are thinking about, not necessarily their specific opinion. Reporting politics constantly is low hanging fruit that drives ratings.

The amount of time spent reporting a story can be as powerful as the story itself if not more so. Imagine if instead of reporting about Joe Bidens VP or Trumps non-stop flubs, what if major cable news networks spent a week reporting the latest NYT story about UFOs and materials “not from this earth”? Can you imagine the reaction if they decided that was the story to spend almost all their time on? It would likely cause people to prepare for an alien invasion.

Obsessing over whatever political fruit came out of the oven that day or week is what prioritizes those stories in people’s minds. As previously mentioned, cable news does this because 1) It’s easy 2) It fills time 3) It drives ratings.

It’s much easier to ask some political pundit to give ‘their take’ on Joe Biden’s decision or Trump’s latest scandal than it is to have reporters chiseling away at stories that could take months to develop and may not attract a wide audience, but they still need to fill that 24-hour news cycle, so how can for-profit media companies do this while maintaining ratings: focus on politics.

In many ways, cable TV news has become much more of a media outlet for political parties, with some news sprinkled in.

This myopic focus on politics by mainstream news media has caused the population as a whole to have the same near-sighted, insulated view of the world and this country. Even worse, the partisan and emotion driven reporting has driven us further apart. Yet we walk around feeling well informed and ready to have adult conversations about politics while news anchors deliver downright childish and toxic “news” monologues every night. By allowing cable news to dominate the national conversation, we don’t have the bandwidth to think about much else, leaving us nearly blind to what is actually happening throughout the world and where we live.

This non-stop political drum on cable news is enough to drive me crazy after only an hour. Thinking about my grandpa who spends hours in front of it every day just makes me sad. As a millennial, I see change on the horizon and I’m very happy about that. I hardly know anyone paying for cable TV. According to Pew Research, viewership of television for a source of news is declining across all age groups, with 18-to-29-year-olds dropping to 23%, while ages 65+ dropped from 85% to 82%. Obviously, age is a massive factor.

I’m a plant-based human, musician, writer, athlete, hippy, and nerd, just trying to enjoy as much life as I can while causing as little harm as possible.

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