It Super Bowl time and 308 million people are poised for the battle between … left and right. That insignificant contest between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots will be over Sunday Feb. 5. But the battle between red and blue has taken on epic proportions.
It hasn't always been that way. For decades, America was called the great melting pot. One trip up and down through your cable offerings and you know that's no longer true. We've been sliced and diced, segmented and marketed. We are no longer one nation under God. Heck, one segment doesn't even believe in God and another hates any public display of faith.
America's great melting pot has been replaced. We're now a buffet - with lines forming on the left and right. We don't live in the same places, go to the same churches (or any churches), watch the same TV shows or listen to the same music. Instead, everyone on both sides has donned a jersey.
In just a few short years, we've gone from a mass market America to a house a divided. And this election year things are worse than they've been for a long time. (No, not worse than ever. Sixty seconds of Googling "bleeding Kansas" or the "Civil War" should make that obvious.)
We don't even watch the same TV shows anymore. In the Prehistoric era of the 1970s, Americans watched all of the same shows. The liberal "All in the Family" headed a line-up that ended with the family friendly "Carol Burnett Show." Everything in between from the African-American themed "Jeffersons" to the lunatics of "Bob Newhart" was part of the common experience of many Americans.
Now left and right self-select out of each other's TV lives. According to Experian Simmons, ideology impacts what we watch on the tube. "In the findings, 'sarcastic' media-savvy comedies and morally murky antiheroes tend to draw Dems. While serious work-centered shows (both reality shows and stylized scripted procedurals), along with reality competitions, tend to draw conservatives," wrote EW.com.
Lefties love "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report," since both help write the liberal playbook. Throw in "The View," which shows they have a high tolerance for stupid, and then toss in the mandatory pro-gay shows of "Glee" and "Modern Family."
On the right, there are "gritty documentary-style work-related reality shows" like "Swamp Loggers" and "Top Shot," which is an amazing program. Throw in happy endings programs like "The Bachelor" and "The Biggest Loser" along with non-lefty crime dramas "Hawaii Five-O" and "NCIS."
The same is said for movies. Conservatives flocked to see the Narnia movies and celebrated Christian values of "The Blind Side" or "Soul Surfer." Liberals, who control almost all of Hollywood, have a huge selection - from arty Sundance movies to the bogus Hoover biopic "J Edgar," Michael Moore swill and an endless stream of movies highlighting sex, bashing business and portraying America or Americans as villains.
Conservatives cheer Tim Tebow and celebrate both his victories and his faith by praying. Their faith teaches them everyone is flawed and they need to forgive. They believe in American exceptionalism and expect everyone to obey the law - whether it's Occupy Wall Street rioters or illegal immigrants. And they know that building an ever-larger welfare state on the backs of the 53 percent who pay federal taxes is doomed to failure.
Liberals hate Tebow, his faith and violent sports and mock them by "Tebowing" at Hollywood events. They are more than willing to forgive, but do so selectively, if they agree with a person. They despise or apologize for America and believe we need to make penance for our success and embrace the revolution against The Man. And they want us all to pay far higher taxes. Just don't ask them to donate as much as conservatives do because charity is somehow wrong.
Both groups overlook the failings of their own team and highlight those of the other side. That's how NOW and other women's groups still managed to embrace Bill Clinton and overlook his role as Sex-Harasser-in-Chief. And it's the same way conservatives thrilled to George W. Bush's Supreme Court appointments and ignored his incredible overspending.
And all of it is seen through the eyes of self-selected news outlets - the home sports pages of politics. The Washington Post led off primary day in South Carolina with a story detailing how traditional news outlets are losing their status. "Polarized news market has altered the political process," the paper stated. The story cited a 2009 Stanford/UCLA report saying readers are rejecting sources they don't agree with.
As the Post explained it, Americans are relying on outlets that support their teams for their news. "The audience is so polarized that even when consumers look for more entertaining sorts of news, such as travel or sports stories, they tend to choose sources that match their political leanings - conservatives to Fox News and liberals to National Public Radio, for example," wrote Marc Fisher.
He went on to describe a liberal voter who got his news from sites such as "MSNBC, Huffington Post, Mother Jones and CNN." That was followed by a conservative who relied on "Commentary magazine's site and Breitbart.tv," as well as newsmax.com, Vision to America, teapartynation.com, and The Washington Times.
That's the environment for Newt Gingrich's resurgence. Conservatives have watched as the media moved systematically through the Republican field - destroying Herman Cain and targeting every other possible candidate from Sarah Palin to Rick Santorum with claims of affairs and attacks on children and wives.
Gingrich has been at his most effective when fighting back against that media onslaught - serving as the culture quarterback desperately sought by conservatives. The bomb he threw leveled CNN's John King during last week's debate, but it was just the latest play in long-running game.
Gingrich is legitimately angry that journalists are trying to choose the president by doing timely hit jobs on GOP candidates. He's also savvy and knows not just his own audience but the American public. A recent poll by "Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling company based in Raleigh, N.C.," showed 77 percent of likely South Carolina Republican primary voters had an unfavorable view of the media. Just 14 percent said they had a favorable view.
That's because the vast majority of that media - news and entertainment - has chosen the liberal team for decades. In 2012, they are finding Americans no longer see the media as referees. Journalists, especially, are wearing the uniform of the blue team and that makes them targets as much as any candidate. Maybe more.
Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.