Former Congressman Says Media Contributes To Divisive Politics

by Gabe Bullard on January 25, 2011

Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton says the media is partially responsible for today’s heated political rhetoric.

Hamilton says during his tenure he was often turned down for appearances on talk shows because his opinions were too nuanced to be quickly explained. That, he says, has led to the overrepresentation of the most extreme or simple opinions.

“The politician who stands in the middle is not favored, if you would, by the media. The media wants your immediate reaction to a problem. You state that, you’re locked in, you limit your ability to compromise,” he says. “The media tends to play up differences—exaggerate, even—differences. It makes it more difficult for a political to be a statesman and try to find common ground.”

Hamilton says he further believes the opinions presented in many news programs do not represent public opinion.

“The key voters, the ones in the middle, do not have—I believe they do not have—a passionate attachment to either party,” he says. “I don’t think they have a vigorous identification with any particular ideology. Many of them don’t even have a strong interest in politics.”

He made his comments on WFPL’s State of Affairs Tuesday.

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