Media Plays Part In U.S. Political Polarization

Nov 4, 2013

The political polarization of the United States continues to capture the attention of politicians and political observers. University of Oklahoma President David Boren calls the problem, “one of the most serious threats to America’s influence at home and abroad.”

Thomas Patterson

Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government focused on the media’s role in contributing to the devolution of the middle ground as part of the Rothbaum Lectures at OU in October.

“Increasingly, parts of the country are getting more and more concentrated in terms Republican bastions or Democratic bastions,” Patterson said. “The northeast at one time, by some standards, was slightly Republican. But for sure it was closely competitive between the parties. Today, it’s very strongly Democratic.”

Patterson’s lectures were called, “Feeding the Fire: The Media’s Role in Party Polarization.” His latest book, Informing the News, examines the decline in the quality of public information.

“Historically, the Julian J. Rothbaum Distinguished Lectureship in Representative Government has taken on tough and provocative issues facing our body politic,” said Cindy Simon Rosenthal, director and curator of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, which sponsors the lectureship.

KGOU plans to air his three lectures in future episodes of Oklahoma Voices.