Political Extremism and the Internet

Being able to reach voters n such a wide scale has had an astounding effect on politics in this country. The internet has allowed political extremism to flourish in the past decade. Those on the left side of the ideological spectrum as well as those on the right are able to access sites that share similar views, while simultaneously having the ability to block out opposing views. The impact that this has on the outcome of elections is something that simply cannot be ignored. The web is now one of the most effective tools in campaign arsenals.
Those who do not use the internet for political reasons have also tarted to realize the ramifications that the internet can have on political extremism as well as politics in general. The increase in overall internet usage is leading to a rise in political extremism and is having a profound effect on the political discourse in America. Voters tend to have somewhat conflicting views on the use of the internet for political purposes. Most believe that the internet has the ability to present several different views on a particular issue, yet others believe it is hard to sort through all of the different sources (Smith).
Some see it as a hindrance to the olitical process because of the way that inaccurate information seems to circulate freely (Smith). However, most people would agree that it is up to each individual reader to make the determination as to what qualifies as an accurate and reliable source. Fifty-six percent of all adult internet users say that they have difficulty determining which political stories are true and which ones are false (Smith). However, many users also find it convenient to connect with those that share similar political views (Smith).

Left wing media outlets maintain a strong presence on the World Wide Web. Such sites tend to report both major and minor news stories with a left-leaning bias. This allows readers of these particular sites to only see one certain viewpoint on a story. The Huffington Post is one of the most popular liberal news outlets. It is run by Arianna Huffington who is the former wife of a republican congressman; she switched her political beliefs in the late 1990s (Huffington). The Huffington Post was recently purchased by AOL in 2011 for over three hundred million dollars (Huffington).
The sale has not slowed the site though, as it remains as popular as ever. The Huffington Post covers a vast array of topics ranging from politics to comedy (Huffington). While there have been some attempts to produce a conservative website in the same style as The Huffington post, these efforts have not seen the same success as the Huffington t (Top 1 ) It maintains a large readership due to this wide variety that users have access to. However, political topics tend to dominate the front page, and are thereby seen by additional traffic from those Just using the site for entertainment purposes (Huffington).
The way in which the Huffington Post displays its content creates a user-friendly environment hat keeps readers interested. Its use of catchy, and oftentimes misleading, headlines allows readers to skim the front page of the website and get an over view of the leading stories of the day. However, the most serious issue with sites like the Huffington Post is their refusal to cover stories that portray liberals in a negative way. This bias was pointed out by Lee Stranahan who is actually employed by the Huffington Post (Stranahan).
He was particularly troubled by the way that some stories were simply ignored by several liberal news media (Stranahan). He expressed he belief that this tactic is one that is harmful to nearly all voters, as it only fuels partisanship (Stranahan). It allows ignorance to perpetuate which is detrimental to all parties involved. However, the practice of selective Journalism seems to plague an equal number of both liberals and conservatives. Sites that promote news with a conservative slant tend to be somewhat more prevalent than those that have a more liberal leaning.
This can be attributed to the belief held those on the right feel that the mainstream media is promoting a liberal agenda (Stanley). One of the most opular conservative websites is the Drudge Report. The Drudge Report was started by Matt Drudge in the late 1990s and consistently has over thirty million hits daily (Drudge). He has been able to achieve this success with a fairly low-tech website that relies on a religious-like following from his readers. Drudge first gained notoriety when he broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal during the Clinton Administration.
He has maintained this success by grabbing viewers’ attention with clever headlines that link to other websites that offer varying political views (Drudge). The Drudge Report is onsidered by many political insiders as the major driver of political news discussions in America as it directs its readers to other news sites (Sullivan). This leads to greater exposure for stories that are linked on Drudge (Stanley). However, it still is seen by many Journalists and political pundits as being biased.

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