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EVIDENTIARY DEBATE GROUP PROJECT BRIEF Prepared By Danielle Rodriguez Megan Wharton RESOLUTION This house believes that openly partisan mainstream media is hurting democracy in the United States.

CONTEXT Elections have always been a focal point of domestic media, but party lines have arguably never been more defined than they are today. There are a number of factors contributing to this partisanship, but one of them may be the media itself. The recent financial crisis has prompted populist outrage toward big banks and increased the clash between the "one percent" and the ninety-nine percent on the Democratic side, while the threat of tax increases has seen the emergence of the far-right Tea Party movement on the Republican side. Whether the political polarization of the media precipitated these political and social movements, or is simply a reflection of the broader changes occurring in our domestic environment is a moot point. Just as negative campaigning and ethics in Washington are facing reinvigorated scrutiny at the height of election season, one of the worlds largest media conglomerates is recovering from its own ethical scandal.

RESOLUTIONAL ANALYSIS Definitions 1. We define "this house" as a bipartisan forum attempting to address the concerns of American citizens.

2. We define "openly partisan" as sources that are generally accepted by a public consensus to have obvious political leanings, or those that openly endorse a particular party, or have a tendency to endorse candidates of a particular party. 3. We define "media" as newspapers, television broadcasters, news programs, magazines, and the like. 4. We define "hurt" as the act of causing harm or serious impairment of an individual's, population's, or other group's ability to act judiciously or fairly judge/analyze a particular situation. 5. We define "democracy" as (1) the process by which citizens select elected officials, (2) the system of governance whereby leaders are elected by a majority of the people.

Grounds This debate will be discussed primarily on the grounds of value. Potential Issues 1. Are there significant harms resulting from the partisanship of mainstream media? 2. Is free speech more important than supporting democracy? 3. What role does partisan media outlets play in the public discourse? 4. Is Hostile Media Phenomenon involved? Democrats/Republicans and others with highly committed points of views perceive impartial news stories as biased in favor of their opponents.

POTENTIAL ARGUMENTS Proposition 1. Openly Partisan Media Perpetuates the Drawing of Party Lines

People are susceptible to confirmation bias. That is, they are likely to tend toward sources of evidence and news that affirm their own beliefs. Openly partisan media makes this issue more widespread. Someone who is politically conservative, for instance, may only watch generally accepted conservative programming (like Fox News) because it affirms his original biases. While the programming he selects may be reputable, valid sources, he may also be missing an important insight to the issue at hand, because the report may be one-sided. This can cause significant harms to the democratic process in the United States. Democracy should be about citizens electing candidates based on the merits of their policies and leadership effectiveness. With one-sided media coverage, these qualities often get left behind. To illustrate this point, lets use someone named Bob. Bob is someone who identifies himself as politically liberal, and his primary source of news is MSNBC. Bob chose this network because he feels it is the most relevant. Though Bob generally opposes entitlement programs, the news he watches shows only negative views of Republican candidates and glowing reviews of Democratic candidates. Though Bob actually has more in common with the Republican candidate in this presidential election, he is unaware of the merits of that candidate because of the partisanship of displayed by his selected news source. Bob will now vote Democrat despite the availability of a better match for him, thus perpetuating partisanship in Washington. As a result of MSNBCs biased coverage, viewers are not able to judiciously and fairly evaluate the merits of political candidates, thereby creating a harm to democracy as we have previously defined it.

2. Openly Partisan Media Makes Media More Partisan (viscous cycle) Lets say we have someone named Julie. Julie considers herself to be moderately conservative when it comes to politics. She only watches Fox News and has noticed that over the years, the programming has grown more and more conservative. Why is this? With the

emergence of prominent conservative extremists like the Tea Party, Fox has had to become even more conservative in order to stay relevant with the most vocal conservatives. In other words, Fox fears the backlash it would receive from its primary viewership if it was deemed too liberal. Because the political environment in aggregate has become more polarized, media has been forced to choose sides as well, in order to maintain viewership among their target demographics. This hurts voters who are in the middle because it makes it harder than ever for them to get well-rounded coverage of important issues and candidates.

3. Media Skews Facts and is Manipulative History is filled with examples of the corrupt and sometimes perverse world of the media. The media will do anything to get a story, even resorting to disrespectful and criminal activity. Just last year we saw the much-publicized downfall of The Man Who Owns the News. As light was shed on the misdeeds of Rupert Murdochs News Corp, the public was horrified to learn of the widespread phone hacking occurring at his London tabloids. Targets of the illegal hacking ranged from politicians to bankers to actors, to most disgustingly and distastefully, a young, murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler. When thinking about partisan mainstream media, a very strong and exemplary example of this is Fox News. The proof that media is manipulative and skews fact is fantastically demonstrated in the final result of Fox News 1997 Whistleblower lawsuit. In 1997 Jane Akre and Steve Wilson filed a lawsuit against Fox News because the news corporation fired them for refusing to lie about the danger of Monsanto products. On August 28, 2000 the jury ruled that they were wrongly fired by Fox News because they refused to tell a a false, distorted or slanted story about Monsantos products. Fox News appealed the case with the Florida Court of Appeals and in February 2003 the court found that there is no law against falsifying news. By

virtue of the fact that television news outlets are legally allowed to lie about the news, it's no stretch of the imagination that they would skew facts to support their partisan party. Potential POI: Can the actions of one company be taken as representative of the entire media industry?

4. Partisan Media Are Not Only Watchdogs of the Political Elite, But They Are Their Lapdogs According to The Washington Post, President Obama owes his success to [the] slobbering lapdogs of the mainstream media. It is only through collusion with these national newshounds that the country can focus on some stupid comment Mitt Romney made four months ago over the fact that the President has failed to cut the deficit as promised, has overseen some of the worst attacks on American diplomatic missions in recent history, and a double-downgrade in our national credit rating. Even Mr. Romney himself would probably concede that he doesnt quite have the silver tongue of President Obama. But, hopefully, it is not forked, either.

Opposition 1. Freedom of Speech and Press Freedom of speech and the press are ideals so fundamentally American and so central to cultural identity that numerous landmark decisions have established them as principles that must be protected at all costs. The courts have created a precedent: all speech is protected speech unless it poses a clear and present danger. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states about freedom of the press: everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this

right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers. Partisan opinion and speech, since it passes the clear and present danger test, is protected under the First Amendment. The same for partisan media coverage, as long as it doesnt defame law and infringe any copyrights laws, it is protected by the United States Constitution. This is a debate on harms to American society. Isnt quashing free speech and press an even greater threat than media partisanship? That we would allow politics to overrule protections established by the founders of our great nation is utter ridiculousness.

2. Innovation and Advancement Through Dialectic Research in psychology and political science suggest that this tug-of-war between opposing sides could be beneficial. Ideas between parties get thrown around, which in turn enables members to challenge and question opponents notions. The original purpose of the partisan press was to create an atmosphere in which the truth would prevail in the marketplace of ideas. The mainstream media ultimately is dispensing their own convictions and interpretation on topics and allowing their partisan opponents to challenge their ideas. As a result of this tug-of-war between parties, better ideas emerge helping parties plans and notions become more effective and efficient. In addition, technology has empowered the rise of diverse media viewpoints which create a harness to facilitate this greater deliberation. Like we discussed in class about Platos dialectic, open exchange of differing ideas leads to innovation and, potentially, an evolution into agreement, both of which are beneficial to society as a whole. Potential POI: Is there truly diversity in the press? While it may seem as though there is a diversity of ideas in media, there is not. Companies like News Corp control a disproportionate percentage of the global media, meaning that one person can potentially

have enormous impact on which stories get published and which do not. This kind of concentration of power in the press can serve as an incubator for corruption.

3. A diverse, multi-voiced press is in the best interests of America/world. Like we previously mentioned, allowing a multitude of voices in the media provides substantial benefits. It is only through exchange of ideas that each side can come to recognize its strengths and weaknesses, and collaboration allows ideas to evolve into unified arguments stronger than either side could come up with on its own. Through challenging arguments, it helps partisans to recognize the strong and weak points of their arguments. Further, knowing that ones viewpoints will always be attacked by the other side keeps integrity in media--authors are more likely to fact-check, because they are aware that their arguments will be challenged. Partisan media can be particularly helpful because of the pressure it puts on our elected leaders. Our elected officials wield enormous power, and partisan press can help keep them in check. A Democratic president, for example, may not always be compelled to act in the best interest of his constituents if he knows that there will only be favorable news coverage. But if there are powerful conservative news outlets, the knowledge that his every move will be put under a microscope makes him less likely to act in self-interest. Since the Republican partisan outlet may try to highlight the flaws in the Democratic president, the president will attempt to act in ways more favorable to the public and therefore for the people.

4. Every responsible citizen should answer the partisan press with his or her own voice. Its almost insulting to suggest that people can be so naive as to believe anything the media throws out there. The reason we have juries instead of justice systems based purely on the judges discretions is because our society functions under the notion that its citizens are reasonable and intelligent people. If we are given the power to vote, we should also be given the

power to our own voice. As creatures of intellect we are capable of making our own decisions and judgments based on a variety of information, and of challenging viewpoints we dont agree with. All citizens are capable of listening and consuming partisan media and deciding for themselves what aspects they agree and disagree with. This is what advocacy is all about-deciding based on multiple sources what one feels passionate about and using your voice to defend issues and topics you are passionate about. Not to do so would simply be irresponsible. Similarly, if the author of a particularly partisan piece is passionate about a subject, its his duty to advocate on its behalf.

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Kahn, Kim Fridkin, and Patrick Kenney. 2002. The Slant of the News: How Editorial Endorsements Influence Campaign Coverage and Citizens' Views of Candidates. American Political Science Review 96:381-94. Mutz, Diana. 2006b. "How the Mass Media Divide Us." In Red and Blue Nation? Volume 1, ed. David Brady and Pietro Nivola. Stanford, CA and Washington, D.C.: Hoover Institution and Brookings Institution Press. Prior, Markus. 2007. Post-Broadcast Democracy: How Media Choice Increases Inequality in Political Involvement and Polarizes Elections. New York: Cambridge University Press. Rosensteil, Thomas. 2006. "How the Mass Media Divides Us--Two Alternative Perspectives." In Red and Blue Nation? Volume 1, eds. Pietro Nivola and David Brady. Stanford, CA and Washington, D.C.: Hoover Institution and Brookings Institution Press. Timeline: News Corp and the Phone-Hacking Scandal. Reuters, 24 July 2012. <http://www.reu ters.com/article/2012/07/24/britain-hacking-newscorp-idUSL5E8GAH9720120724>. Web. 29 October 2012.