The final Democratic debate of 2019 happened in Los Angeles tonight, and not surprisingly, the first question out of the gate was about last night’s House impeachment of President Trump.
Specifically, moderator Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour asked the candidates why, if impeachment is so necessary, more Americans are not on board with it. Many polls have the country split on the issue, a contrast to the Nixon era when most Americans supported it.
Given the gravity of what happened yesterday, the question was a good one, but most of the candidates squandered it—launching into unspecific diatribes about a president who lies and country that is moving in the wrong direction, or whatever.
Andrew Yang had a more incisive take, however: “We’re getting our news from different sources,” the tech entrepreneur said.
It’s an answer that is both obvious and imperceptible. You simply can’t compare today’s attitudes toward impeachment to those of the Watergate era, when most Americans got their news from the same three TV networks. The typical media diet in 2019 is so partisan and bifurcated that it’s almost impossible to imagine broad consensus on anything. It’s why we have raging debates over whether climate change is even real and whether vaccines cause autism.
Pew Research has studied this issue extensively. Media polarization has been a growing phenomenon since at least the mid-1990s. (Coincidentally, around the same time Fox News was launched—just sayin’.) In the age of social media-fueled disinformation, it’s certainly not getting any better.
So, of course, there’s no consensus on impeachment. Say what you will: Yang called it. He went on to say Americans need to “stop being obsessed” about impeaching Trump and “start actually digging in and solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected.”
That’s also a pretty good answer, especially when you consider the irreconcilable problem of a country that lives in parallel universes.
— POLITICO (@politico) December 20, 2019