Schiff: Blame alternative media for Washington turmoil

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says the internet’s free flow of information and the modern American news consumer’s propensity for “self-selecting the news they want to hear” is making life tough for policymakers.

Rampant partisanship in in Washington has many causes– but Schiff believes the way in which Americans get their political news is one of the biggest issues behind the perpetual divisiveness in Congress.

“There’s a lot that got us to where we are today in terms of the partisan nature of Congress. Certainly, I think the way campaigns are financed has some contributing role. Redistricting and the gerrymander has a role, but probably the most significant is now just the way people get their information,” Schiff said at a recent event.

According to the Democrat, the proliferation of independent media has muddied the waters of American politics.

“It is a far different world than it was with the democratization of information that I recall when I was a college student, racing home to my dormitory to watch Walter Cronkite’s last broadcast. We have come a long way since then. It is now much more difficult to even agree on a common set of objective facts,” Schiff said.

The lawmaker added that he believes many Americans now choose to read only the news which aligns with their political beliefs.

“People now getting information, often self-selecting the news that they want to hear. And when it comes to social media, it may be even more balkanizing because the algorithms that produce the news that people get on social media produce the news that they want to see and read, which tends to reinforce the views that they had before they read the news,” Schiff said.

 He added: “I think one of the most dramatic transformations in the 18 years that I’ve been in Congress is that people get their information from such different places. And I think that has contributed to a real balkanization of the public as well as a polarization of people in Congress in terms of the Russia investigation.”

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