Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

David Brooks Interview on MPR  | e-mail post

New York Times columnist David Brooks is in the Twin Cities today. He'll be speaking at the University of St Thomas in St Paul tonight [info] (tickets are $20, with a discount for MPR members). His topic this evening is the polarization in America.

While he was in town he was over at MPR studios for an interview an call in on Midday with Mike Mulcahy. Brooks is my kind of conservative, and I wish there were more like him. You can listen to the interview and call from MPR's website. He talks at the beginning of the show on the topic of polarization. Much as I argued in my "Thoughts on Our 'Divided America'" piece from a few days ago, he doesn't feel there is an issues divide, but that it is divide about leadership and personality.

Many of his comments mirrored things I mentioned in my post, including the self-imposed segmentation of people into homogenous groups such that they really don't know people with differing views. ("People are really good at finding people like themselves, and they move there.") He observed that since more of our jobs are "information jobs" and are not tied to specific locations people are more able to move to these homogenous areas of people "like themselves." That is not something I had thought about as a causal factor, but it makes sense and doesn't portend a good prognosis for interaction.

He also talks about the selection of media that reinforce our opinions rather than forcing us to confront and wrestle with differing opinions, and how doing so promotes a sort of "mental flabbiness," an idea with which I completely agree. This is why I, as a conservative, get more of my news from MPR and the NYT, rather than Fox (never) or the WSJ (usually more for business news). This is something I mentioned in passing in my post, but plan on expanding upon in a larger post looking at some 2004 Pew media consumption research, which does indicate that people do have a tendency to select their media for reinforcement of news.

I wasn't able to catch all of the interview/call-in, but plan to listen to the rest of it this evening.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Thursday, December 02, 2004
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