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A return to hyperpartisanship

The writer was an upstate New York lawyer active in Democratic politics. When his column, "Between Neighbors," debuted in 1928, he outlined his goal of offering an evenhanded assessment of current events.

"The day has gone by when you can fool people into believing that the nation, or a state or a country or a city is going to the dogs just because one political party happens to be in power in it," he wrote. "People are sick of the kind of editorial writing which sees only good in every measure and every man sponsored by one party and only bad on the other side....That is one reason why the bitterly partisan press is losing its influence in this country."

My friend John Barrett, a law professor at St. John’s University, shared this quote at a particularly apt moment. It serves as a useful reminder that the days of a hyperpartisan news media did not begin with Rush Limbaugh and Daily Kos, Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann.

The columnist’s complaint that "the little provincial papers...today in the news-columns magnify as first page news any disagreements in their opponents’ camps and run only a half inch on the back page about any trouble in their own camp" pretty much sums up the role of the liberal and conservative blogosphere today.

Then again, his conclusion that the days of such hyperpartisanship were over doesn’t exactly seem to have panned out. With "more and better education everywhere," he wrote, "readers do not as much as formerly take the views and news of a one-sided paper as Gospel Truth."

Substitute "cable channel" or "blog" for "newspaper" and ask yourself whether that is true today. The partisan segmentation of newspapers that existed in the early part of last century is gone, along with too many newspapers themselves, only to be replaced by partisan segmentation in other forms of media.

The writer, it turns out, didn’t last long enough to judge whether he lived up to his own standards. After writing 10 columns in two months, he was nominated to be his party’s candidate for governor.

"That November," Barrett, who is writing a biography of Justice Robert H. Jackson, notes, "the former Beacon Standard columnist, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was selected governor of New York. In that office and in his next office, he got, at least sometimes, the fair and balanced media coverage that leaders and policies, and also we neighbors in the audience, deserve."

By Ruth Marcus  | March 25, 2010; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Next: At the Tea Party, it's every man for himself

Comments

There is nothing new under the sun. I keep recalling that bromide about "those who don't learn from their history being condemned to relive it." Apparently it is ever thus. Another bromide apt for our times: "This too shall pass."

Posted by: otabenga | March 25, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting to watch Liberals march lock-step into the abyss of Socialism - even praising their morality as they drop. Because millions of sheep believe in a dumb thing doesn't make it any smarter.

November can't come soon enough!

Posted by: 2009frank | March 25, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

WILL !!!! With Boneher's weak denial and cantors trying to turn the tables and make it Dems fault for reporting these incidents, and the media pushing the point ==palin may get what she and limpbow have been inciting..violence in their streets.Shameless!
Weak cover for the group that has been screeming for over a year..These are not Americans --they are treaonous fools! taking advantage of the very people they preport to protect but are infact part of the scum!

Posted by: jetlone | March 25, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

We have total control now and the rest is outta control. It's nice to have control isn't it? Heavy metal is, well, heavy and I got new speed equipment for quick takes. What a country.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 25, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Wonders how the writer missed citing Rachel Maddow, who is every bit as partisan as any of the rest?

Posted by: dmedman50 | March 25, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Its difficult to tell whether Barrach Hussein Oboma or his side kick is the president. Both seem to be obnoxious and in training for their own evening TV show.

Posted by: rvaw120 | March 25, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

November can't come soon enough!

Posted by: 2009frank

---------------> There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.

Posted by: kban495 | March 26, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

...and it's about time.

Posted by: daphne5 | March 26, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

The fact that any of these people can call the bill just passed "communist" is a testament to the utter failure of our public school system to teach critical analysis.

Posted by: risejugger | March 26, 2010 4:54 AM | Report abuse

That's because he's the POST PARTISAN, POST RACIAL, MOST INTELLIGENT, MOST TRANSPARENT, BIGGEST LIAR THAT EVER LIVED PRESIDENT, silly. It's because he HATES THIS COUNTRY. Always has. Hates the FOUNDERS. Hates the Military.(He doesn't? Why did he start his political career in the living room of a couple who used to KILL COPS, Blow Up Recruiting Offices, and BOMB THE PENTAGON?) Why, he even thinks that THE WRONG SIDE won the Cold War. EVERYONE he's ever hung out with, HATES THIS COUNTRY. And everyone knows: Birds of a Feather, Flock Together. Don't they?
That's why you're at WAPO, Ruth. With all the other Far Left Idiots, whose only goal in life is to lie prostrated before an ALMIGHTY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. "Please take care of us, oh wise and powerful Washington. Tell me what to do. Tell me where to go. I'm afraid."
You're not afraid, Ruth. You just want to be DOMINATED. Perhaps you should seek out a DOMINATRIX. And let the rest of us live our lives as GOD intended.
You wanna be led around the room on a LEASH? Go pay for it WITH YOUR OWN MONEY.

Posted by: GoomyGommy | March 26, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

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