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A central aspect of the art of politics in Washington is getting information to the American people. Determining what the White House, Congress and the people will focus on — and, just as important, what the content of debate will be — preoccupies politicians at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and legions of lobbyists, pundits, strategists and consultants.
One major institution looms large in all these people’s calculations: the national media. Not only has it historically played a vital role in informing the people and focusing their attention on issues that need addressing, but also it has a considerable impact on how we talk about them.
The crosscurrents of reasoned discourse and angry outbursts that have characterized much of the debate on healthcare reform are a perfect illustration of how coverage by the mainstream media, the exhortations of talk radio hosts and extreme theories spread through the blogosphere all combine to influence the dialogue of democracy.
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