Morning Glory: Blue America v. Red America

The United States today, effectively and enduringly, is not one but three nations. There is a “Red America” a “Blue America,” and an “I don’t care” America. Rarely do those in Blue or Red America agree on matters political, or reconcile with friends and family estranged because of politics, and increasingly they do not congregate together.

What used to be differences that were accepted and understood have become breaking points among families and former friends.  We are far, far from “civil war” or even 1968 levels of antipathy, but there is a separation between Blue and Red America that is deep and deepening. 

This is most manifest in the struggles of the many businesses that purport to “do news.” Only 32% of Americans say they trust the mass media “a great deal” or “a fair amount,” according to Gallup in a survey from last October, a low point equaling the previous bottoming out in 2016 and a small decline since 2021 (36%) and 2022 (34%).

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The legacy media’s slow motion credibility crash has led to a collapse in audience and revenue for most such platforms. The core reason seems obvious: The legacy media seethes with contempt for “Red America,” and Red America knows that legacy media is overwhelmingly staffed by Blue America. In turn, “Red America” has walked away from those platforms.

The Red America/Blue America split manifests in the polling in the presidential race, but also on almost every major issue of consequence. Support for Israel is the most salient such issue at this moment, but the same divide separates “pro-life” from “pro-abortion rights camps,” as well as with the divisions over public education’s lurch left, gender ideology and pretty much every cultural and most economic debates.

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Before he became one of a handful of the great British statesmen of the 19th, Benjamin Disraeli was a successful novelist. In his “Sybil” from 1845, he wrote about a divide in language that returns to remind us of conditions not just in Victorian England but today in the United States. There existed in the United Kingdom then, Disraeli wrote, “two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy, who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts and feelings as if they were inhabitants of different planets.”

This is our condition today, and increasingly any institution that is obviously aligned with one or the other of the two Americas cannot expect the patronage of the other. This legacy media, overwhelmingly, indeed suffocatingly “Blue,” has simply walked away from Red America. Red America noticed. And they have overwhelmingly stopped watching and reading the Blue media.

The assertion that “legacy media” has simply become “Blue media,” cannot be proven  because most employees of “Blue journalism” refuse to admit their POVs, but most people I speak with intuitively know the assertion that “legacy newsrooms are Blue” is true. If we gathered all the creative staff of the old networks, plus CNN, as well as the staffs of the old brands in newspapers, and got honest answers to six questions, we could get this “proven”:

For whom did you vote in 2016 and 2020? Are you “pro-life” or “pro-abortion rights”? Do you own a gun? Do you attend church more than six times a year? Are there two genders? Do you support the State of Israel’s right to exist and right to defend itself?

My guess is that more than 90% of the assembled legacy media journalists would provide “Blue America” answers to at least 5 of these 6 inquiries. Red America, by contrast, would prove the opposite answers in at least 4 of the six. If a news organization is overwhelmingly populated by “Blue America” journalists, Red America viewers, readers and listeners are going to walk away. In fact, they already have.

Now the question is: Does legacy media want to survive? If so, it will consciously change its staffing and its subject curiosity and ruthlessly throttle biased coverage. It isn’t hard to diagnose what has gone oh so wrong with legacy media generally, but it does require great resolve to fix.

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