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History As It Happens

Jan 26, 2023

In these politically polarized times, Americans have a partisan media that suits the circumstances. Or do biased news and information sources drive the polarization? Whatever the case, public trust in the mass media to accurately report the news is about as low as pollsters have ever found it. The marked ebbing of trust comes as people consume information, credible or not, from more sources than ever before: social media, blogs, podcasts, web sites, YouTube channels, etc., etc. But before you pine for the good ol' days of a neutral press, the notion that journalism should be professional and independent rather than partisan, is relatively new in U.S. history. In fact, from the start of the republic, newspapers and pamphlets were openly partisan and often supported by political patronage. In this episode, historian Jeff Pasley talks about the ways in which the early partisan newspapers bolstered democracy, and how today's media landscape is corroding it.