“Mutual Hatred Is All They Have To Offer” – Why the Media Is Partially to Blame For America’s Broken Two-Party System


  The presidential election of Donald Trump in 2016 unfolded a political reality within the United States that has been evolving for decades: American voters increasingly loathe the opposing political party, its supporters and the governing elect. This new style of averse politics has arisen due to the arrangement of partisan identities with racial, cultural and other social divisions within American society. According to a 2016 Pew Research poll, 36 percent of Republicans believe that Democrats are a “threat to the nation’s well-being.” Twenty-seven percent of Democrats feel the same way about the Republican Party. This increase in political polarization questions the validity of the two-party system within the United States and whether or not these contemporary political organizations are fighting for the well-being of our nation or for the survival of their governmental regimes.

   The rivalry between the Republican and Democratic parties is nothing new. Ever since the United States declared independence in 1776, there have been, for the most part, two major political contenders within the US. The first major party system to emerge in the United States was the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties, following shortly with the Jeffersonians and the Whigs and later resulting in the modernization of the Republican and Democratic parties that we know today. But the growing divide between the two parties has only recently shifted from a divide between what the two sides think is best for the nation to a sheer hatred for what the opposing political party stands for. According to the same Pew Research study, the United States has grown more partisan and politically polarized within the last 30 years, which ultimately has resulted in Congress becoming less effective than it used to be. This constant head-to-head battle has caused much of the political agenda on both sides to be focused on ways to demonize the opposing political party rather than ways to cooperate and work together under one unified objective.

   So why has the United States’ political atmosphere grown increasingly polarized within the last several decades? Many would point to the rise of partisan extremism within the media. According to a 2016 study in Journalist Resource, the increase in media partisanship within the last few years has had a significant impact on American voters and how they view the opposing political party. “I view the Republican Party negatively,” Quinn Bailey said, an economics student from the University of South Florida. “I view the Democratic Party less negatively. This view has been influenced by my mass media consumption, however, I do feel general discontent with all politicians.” The constant slander and political defamation that has flooded news outlets within the last few years has left the media largely incapable of reporting on any real, important problem that is outside of the liberal versus conservative paradigm. And with this ceaseless duality within American politics, issues like climate change, the student debt crisis and systemic corruption gets undermined and stripped of any value. If it’s not being viewed through a liberal or conservative lens, unfortunately, it’s not being viewed at all.


The Demolition of “News” 


   One of the biggest failures in America’s two-party system is the constant need for both political parties to destroy one another. This inevitably has seeped into the mass media. The Daily Caller, a right-wing news and opinion website, found over 20 fake claims published by the broadcast network CNN, falsely reporting things such as the former Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci being under investigation by Congress for his alleged ties to Russia and claiming that the 2017 healt care bill that was being authorized by the Republican Party would make “rape and sexual assault pre-existing conditions” the worst part? CNN isn’t the only “news” company that has made false accusations like these. According to Politifact, a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims made by elected officials, more than 40 percent of what Fox News has reported within the last four years was fake. Claims such as Tucker Carlson’s statement that the Potomac River has gotten “dirtier and dirtier and dirtier and dirtier” due to litter that is left “exclusively by immigrants” or Sean Hannity stating that over “642,000 crimes were committed against Texans by criminal immigrants in a seven-year period” are just a few of the many falsified assertions made by the company.

   But why do news outlets such as CNN and Fox News make up stories like the ones above? The only logical explanation for this is because these stories make the opposing political side look bad. Or, in Carlson’s case, it justifies extreme paleoconservatism and inherently racist assertions that link to controversial issues such as immigration. The problem with these left- and right-leaning media outlets is that they are only reporting news from a partisan perspective, rather than from an impartial one. America’s dualistic political approach has bled into the way we receive news today, to the point that it’s hard to decipher whether or not what you are reading is actually real. Can the corruption of media be linked to our two-party political system? Or were mass manipulation and falsified accusations from media companies inevitable from the start? The question of whether or not the media is to blame for America’s broken two-party system or if America’s broken two-party system is to blame for the corruption of the media remains uncertain. But what doesn’t remain uncertain is that both have negatively affected the relationship that they have with American citizens, so much that neither the U.S. government or the American media can be trusted without a smidge of skepticism.