Making Money from Division

This might be called a business model, but not very convincingly. After all, left-wing magazines don’t make much money even in the worst years. (The Nation hosts, however incongruously, an annual cruise to help keep the lights on.) If their main aim was to make money fanning the flames of political division, they’d work elsewhere.

Matt Taibbi might say they’d find more lucrative work at MSNBC. In his biting new critique of partisan media, Hate Inc., he puts the progressive cable news channel in the same dishonorable category as Fox News. Despite their obvious political differences, he argues, both have made the news a consumer product designed “not just to make you mad, but keep you mad, whipped up in a state of devotional anger.”

Even if the information reported on MSNBC or Fox is factually correct, Taibbi says their work doesn’t amount to traditional journalism because their aim isn’t to inform viewers but to addict them — and addict them, particularly, to a narrative of permanent conflict where one side is always right and the other always wrong.

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