The Problem With Politics? Apparently, It’s Media.

After months of highly publicized and well-funded lobby battles over health-care and student-loan reform, it was becoming easy to diagnose money as the leading evil responsible for polarizing American politics. But a new Rasmussen poll reports the contrary. New numbers out this week show that a majority of voters (55 percent) lay the blame on media bias over money (32 percent)—suggesting that they’re more frustrated with the pundits inside their TVs and newspapers (and, OK, magazines too) than the fat checkbooks in Washington.

It’s somewhat obvious that increasingly ideological programming on the cable channels has contributed to polarization. The sheer fact that Glenn Beck made $32 million last year illuminates just how big of a business opinion journalism can be. (It’s also a factor of why CNN, the most centrist of the three cable power hitters during prime-time programming, has seen its ratings slump over the past year.) But it’s a big deal, and certainly worth noting, when media bias eclipses lobbying—an omnipresent core of Washington that everyone loves to hate, although most people outside Washington actually just hate it.

Since an outlet like NEWSWEEK falls into the amorphous cloud of “media,” we’ll take whatever raps are deserved. But in an admitted display of shirked responsibility, consider the fact that media is often a reflection of what people want to see, hear, and find out. In February, my colleague Evan Thomas noted that the seemingly-broken federal government is, actually, working perfectly fine; it’s the fickle electorate that’s broken. Within that reasoning is a related question: is it the media that’s the problem, or the consumers of it that dictate its content with their preferences?

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