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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Broadcast and cable news’ reluctance to talk about gerrymandering, let alone address the outsized impact it has in state and federal elections, has allowed American democracy to quietly become less representative. As movements build behind redistricting reform, the question remains: Will TV news ever care about gerrymandering?

A yearlong Media Matters study found that cable news shows brought up gerrymandering in only five segments between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. During that same time period, broadcast morning news programs and nightly newscasts didn’t discuss gerrymandering at all. And this isn’t a new trend; for years, media have shown a reluctance to discuss gerrymandering and redistricting. Given the outsized influence partisan and racial gerrymandering has on American democracy, these issues deserve more coverage.

Partisan gerrymandering is not exactly new, but since 2010, Republicans have taken it to a new level. The Associated Press (AP) found that in the 2016 election, gerrymandering helped create the conditions that led to “four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones.” Additionally, “among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.” As University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone wrote for HuffPost, “Although partisan gerrymandering has been with us from the beginning, it is now worse than ever, because computer modeling enables legislators to design districts that almost precisely maximize their political advantage.”

Racial gerrymandering — which involves “spreading minorities across voting districts, leaving them too few in number in any given district to elect their preferred candidates,” or “concentrating the minority vote in certain districts” — has also helped Republicans hold on to their majority. As The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog explained, “Since the minority electorate leans liberal, packing minorities has the same effect as packing Democrats, causing the district map to favor Republicans in the same way it favors whites.” The New York Times’ editorial board described the radical racial gerrymandering that resulted in unconstitutional districts in North Carolina as the GOP’s “unscrupulous efforts to fence off black communities.”

While Republicans have been attacking the heart of American democracy, media coverage has been lacking, to say the least. At the same time, activists and politicians from both sides of the aisle have been calling for independent, nonpartisan groups to take the charge on redistricting in the near future. With momentum rising, the question remains: Will media, specifically broadcast and cable news, ever care about gerrymandering? So far, the answer appears to be no.



Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

8 Responses to Gerrymandering Is Ruining Our Democracy. Will Television News Ever Care?

    • That’s what the GOP is afraid of…..they would lose their majority if everyone could vote freely without having to worry about gerrymandering!

  1. As long as news gathering and reporting decisions are being made by MBA types who can’t see beyond the quarterly report, and the size of their bonus check, don’t expect anything to change. Allowing six giant, conservative, corporations to control 90% of the country’s media doesn’t help either.

  2. Gerrymandering has ruined the country already, and one Party in particular has acted with alarming alacrity in manipulating an already corrupt American form of governing to its advantage.
    Should we be at all surprised by the one-sided advantage this same Party has achieved? Not at all, if we take into account that the country from its inception was predicated on divisiveness, and abetted by an appetite to be overly competitive at the expense of other parties/interest groups. And the media, ideologues, and ordinary citizens are content with this Social Darwinian style of governance that to deviate from the current format would seem highly irregular and unsettling.
    The solution of course is to set our sights on developing an entirely new format, based on enlightened principles that redound to the benefit of all without self-centered political ideologies being factors, along with a reduction in our addiction to being thoroughly materialistic.

  3. Television networks, for the most part, are owned by large corporations. Their news programming, THEY say, is independent and balanced, but they are increasingly beginning to sound more and more like “Big Brother.”

  4. This is a serious problem that needs to be solved quickly! Since “Citizen’s United,” the basic voter has NO say in who gets elected, and gerrymandering in each state has also caused their votes not to count! States need to refine their means of going through the voter register and deleting people who are deceased or who may have moved to another state and re-registered there. Until that’s accomplished, we can’t start worrying about gerrymandering! Apparently, the Republicans are obviously too cowardly to allow voters to vote as they wish without being relegated to “districts” that don’t allow their votes to count!

    • Sorry, though I agree with most of your posts, the note about “deleting people who are deceased…” is a false flag brought up by the GOP. Think about it, how often do dead people vote? Or vote in two states on the same day? In the last 6 or so elections only about 3 -5 cases are found in the entire NATION!
      That is just a red herring the GOP always brings up, to the GOP “voter fraud” means that they somehow let a black man vote!

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