A conservative and two liberals swapped news feeds. It didn’t end well.

Each morning when his wife leaves to work out at the gym, Tom Herbon turns on the radio in his basement wood shop. For much of the day as he works around his home in Troy, north of Detroit, Herbon listens to WDTK 101.5 FM, “The Patriot,”  a conservative talk radio station featuring commentators including Sean Hannity and Mike Gallagher. From 1-3 p.m., he switches stations to hear Rush Limbaugh. 

Several times a day, he’ll fire up his desktop computer and read the latest news on the Drudge Report, the conservative news aggregation website that gets more than 25 million pageviews a day

“I’m a Donald Trump Twitter follower,” said Herbon. “I want to hear directly from the horse’s mouth instead of it being misrepresented by the biased media.”

More coverage: Interactive Map: What political bubble do you live in?

Fifty miles away, a different soundtrack plays in the Ann Arbor home of Aric Knuth and Jim Leija. After work, the couple listens to NPR while cooking and eating dinner. Typically, NPR’s news programs including “All Things Considered” play in the background for three hours each evening. Knuth and Leija, who voted for Hillary Clinton for president, read the New York Times.

“I have the app (for the New York Times) on my phone,” Knuth said. “I check headlines at least six times a day.”

The Ann Arbor couple had never seen the Drudge Report. The Troy retiree had seldom listened to NPR.

That was about to change.

Herbon, Knuth and Leija were all born in Michigan, are college educated, own beautiful homes and have upper-middle class incomes. Yet their world views are polar opposites. One aspect of their lives that divides them: their sources of news.

Michigan Divided

The 2016 presidential election deepened fault lines in Michigan. Bridge is following 11 people and families throughout 2017 in an effort to understand – and pierce – the political and cultural bubbles in which we too often live. Herbon, Knuth and Leija are participating in the project.

Learn more about Michigan Divided

A generation ago, it’s safe to say most Michigan residents got their news from the same local newspapers as their neighbors, and from nightly news shows on three broadcast networks. Today, conservatives in Copper Harbor can glide from car radio to smartphone to laptop gorging on a diet of Benghazi, Obama phones and pedophile pizza conspiracies. Meanwhile, progressives in Port Huron can spend the day swaddled in podcasts and Facebook feeds assailing the intelligence of Trump voters and speculating when impeachment hearings will begin. 

The conservative Herbon and liberals Knuth and Leija don’t deal in conspiracy theories or smug dismissiveness of those with whom they disagree. But the yawning gap between the media sources of these three voracious news consumers makes it difficult for them to find common ground. 

To try to understand each other more, Herbon, Leija and Knuth agreed to swap news sources for one week.

It didn’t go well.

news swap photo

From left, liberals Jim Leija and Aric Knuth of Ann Arbor traded news sources with Troy conservative Tom Herbon for a week. (Bridge illustration by Elbert Lilly).

The news bubble swap

Herbon is a 57-year-old retired engineer. He is conservative financially, regaling visitors with the story of packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for work every day for 17 years. If possible, and Herbon proves that it is, he is even more conservative politically. On Nov. 6, he tied a homemade, 32-square-foot sign supporting Donald Trump to the back of his minivan and parked it outside his polling place.

Read more about Tom Herbon

He is quick with self-effacing jokes, admitting that some likely view him as a “whack job,” and just as quick to label some liberals as “idiots.”

Herbon’s news habits veered to the right during the contentious presidential election between now-President Trump and Hillary Clinton. Before the election, Herbon’s daily routine was to listen to “The Today Show” each morning. He’d record the “NBC Nightly News” and watch it later in the evening with his wife, Janet.

About two weeks prior to the election, Herbon’s routine changed. The Today Show, Meet the Press and NBC News “felt too slanted,” he said. “It isn’t representative of the real news and facts.”

Listening or reading traditional media “made me sick,” Herbon said. “It affects my health. I had to turn it off because I got so irate I literally feel like I want to kill somebody.”

Starting a few weeks before the November presidential election and continuing today, Herbon gets his news primarily from the conservative site Drudge Report. He doesn’t watch TV news, opting instead to work around the house with “The Patriot” talk radio playing in the background.
“Maybe they’ve (traditional media) always been biased,” Herbon said, “but we didn’t’ have a conservative checkpoint to check it against.”

Tom Herbon

Tom Herbon (Photo by Brian Widdis)

Leija and Knuth both work for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and their temperaments match the measured, low-key voices they hear each evening on NPR (National Public Radio), which they listen to on public radio station WUOM, 91.7-FM, better known as Michigan Radio.

Knuth is a lecturer in the English Department and director of the New England Literature Program, and Leija is director of education and community engagement for the University Musical Society.

Read more about Jim Leija and Aric Knuth

Like the conservative Herbon, the unabashed liberal couple tweaked their news habits in the wake of the presidential election.

“We subscribed to the New York Times,” Knuth said. “We felt we needed to read more than we were getting in our 10 free articles a month.”

Beyond the Times and NPR, Leija reads Jezebel, a decidedly feminist-focused blog featuring a mix of opinionated news and entertainment. (The lead story recently was headlined “The T-Rex was a Vicious Predator, but a Gentle and Caring Lover.”)

Aric Knuth and Jim Leija

Jim Leija, left, and Aric Knuth (Photo by Brian Widdis)

Knuth and Leija agreed to switch from listening to NPR to The Patriot talk radio. Instead of compulsively checking the New York Times multiple times a day, the pair would only look at Drudge Report.

After some hesitation, Herbon agreed to turn his radio to a station that carried NPR programming. Instead of reading Drudge online, he would peruse the New York Times website and Jezebel.

Knuth and Leija were enthused about the project. “I love experiments,” Knuth said.

Herbon was wary. “I don’t know if I can make it a week,” he said.

"I AM OUT"

I sent Herbon, Knuth and Leija instructions for their roles in the news bubble swap on Thursday, March 16. The experiment was to begin Monday, March 20 and run through the following Sunday.

The instructions were emailed at 9:23 a.m.

Thirty-one minutes later, Herbon emailed to say he already regretted agreeing to swap news feeds.

"I just looked at jezebel.com,"  Herbon wrote. "The headline "Federal Judge in Hawaii Blocks Trump's Second Travel Ban Just in the Nick of Time" and ensuing article is total biased crap. I specifically chose "total crap" because NO respectable news feed I listen to, read or watch describe things as 'shitty.'

"Without even spending another second on this project I can tell you the result,"  Herbon said. "…God help us."

At 11:39 a.m. the same day, Herbon sent a second email. He’d looked at more articles on Jezebel and checked out the New York Times website.

“I browsed more of jezebel.com and cannot believe what I am reading,”  he wrote. “This site is nothing more than a ranting website for the lunatic fringe that shows NO RESPECT for anything or anybody. I have no interest in punishing myself by interacting for another second with this website.”

At the New York Times, Herbon took offense at an article that referred to a Trump rally as “angry” and “xenophobic.”

“I thought this activity would be interesting and fun but there is nothing fun about subjecting myself to such irresponsible drivel for another second let alone another week,”  Herbon wrote. “I will NEVER look at that Jez… website again.  Life is too short to waste another second going to a website that treats the release of celebrity nude photos  (Herbon was likely referring to this article) with more respect than the President of the United States.

“The NY Times does not print accurate facts in areas I know, so I have no confidence or interest in reading about things I don’t know because I cannot believe what I read.”

New York Times

Conservative Tom Herbon calls the New York Times “un-American.”

At 2:53 p.m. that same day, four days before the experiment was to begin, Herbon sent a third email:

“So there is no confusion, I am OUT of the print experiment,”  Herbon wrote. “The sources you wanted me to review are so un-American and so out of touch with real America I cannot support them in any way shape or form.”

‘A nightmare’

In Ann Arbor, Knuth and Leija stuck with the news swap for five days before giving in to temptation and checking the New York Times for updates on the Affordable Care Act repeal bill being debated in the House of Representatives.

Trying to keep up with the world by only reading the Drudge Report was “a nightmare,” Leija said. Drudge aggregates news stories from multiple sources on the Internet and places them in a list with the same, small headline size.

“I found it hard over the course of the week to know what the important stories were,” Leija said. “I felt under-informed because all that tiny text creates a sense of not being able to tell what is important. It was depressing in a strange way.”

Drudge Report

Liberal Jim Leija calls Drudge Report “a nightmare.”

“You have really important stories all mixed up with really unimportant stories on the same list,” Knuth added. “I just didn’t understand how that could ever be a helpful tool for understanding what’s happening in the world.”

Knuth listened to The Patriot hours each day. “I was shocked,” Knuth said. “I had never listened to a radio station like that before. I was shocked to see that it was actually just a series of programs of Rush Limbaugh-type guys. It was wall-to-wall programming of these cranky personalities, who were engaged mainly in complaining.”

After years of listening almost exclusively to public radio, which does not take advertising, Knuth was disturbed by the amount of air time taken up by ads on The Patriot, including one ad he heard repeatedly featuring former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul hawking a food dehydrator.

“I was just constantly frustrated.” Knuth said. “I like to know what happens in the world, and I constantly felt like I didn’t know anything, and also frustrated by the endless sales pitches, which made me annoyed.”

“I was just constantly frustrated.” Knuth said. “I like to know what happens in the world, and I constantly felt like I didn’t know anything, and also frustrated by the endless sales pitches, which made me annoyed.”

Where are the positive Trump stories?

Herbon dropped out of half of the news swap, declining to read the New York Times or Jezebel, but he did spend the week listening to NPR instead of The Patriot. He said he found NPR segments on news events, such as Senate confirmation hearings with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, to be balanced. Overall, NPR “wasn’t too outrageous,” he said. “It wasn’t torture.”

From notes he’d taken during the week, Herbon pointed to several NPR segments he found troubling - one about “Bi,Trans, LGBT in Havana,” which he felt had no relation to his life, and a story about Boston schools changing world maps. The world map most of us are used to seeing artificially inflates the land size of North America and Europe.

“Boston schools want to change the map because students coming from African nations had lower self-worth because their home land was being minimized by this archaic map. Really? We have nothing more important to talk about than the size of Somalia?

“I heard nothing positive about Trump the whole week,” Herbon said. “I’d be OK with 60 (negative Trump news) to 40 (positive Trump news), but 100-0? Really?

“I heard all week the tag line (on NPR), ‘You trust what you hear.’ I thought, not so much.”

“I heard nothing positive about Trump the whole week,” Herbon said. “I’d be OK with 60 (negative Trump news) to 40 (positive Trump news), but 100-0? Really?

‘No way to agree’

After the news swap, Ann Arbor liberal Knuth deleted his phone app for Drudge Report but added Fox News, and Leija said he wouldn’t mind looking at Drudge Report occasionally as part of a healthy “news diet.”

Troy conservative Herbon went into a self-imposed “news blackout,” not because of the experiment, but because he said he was disgusted by Congressional Republicans failing to repeal Obamacare.

After a week’s exposure to each other’s news bubbles, no minds were changed. The liberals said they felt the conservative was being ill-served by his news feed. The conservative said the same for the liberals.

“It made me really sad that there is this person who listens to this radio station all day long, that is filled with people who are exactly like him, that say exactly the things he wants to hear,” Leija said. “I guess that is the nature of the bubble. That really scared me.”

“It made me really sad that there is this person who listens to this radio station all day long, that is filled with people who are exactly like him, that say exactly the things he wants to hear,” Leija said. “I guess that is the nature of the bubble. That really scared me.”

As for Herbon, listening to NPR and reading the New York Times, “I was immediately turned off by inaccuracies of what I know to be fact. If people don’t know what a fact is, we have a huge problem.

“If they say black and I say white,” Herbon said, “there’s no way to agree.”

So what can we do?

Herbon, Leija and Knuth came away from the news swap saying they believe the divide between Michigan residents would shrink if they shared a nonpartisan source of news.

Herbon suggests Drudge.

Leija suggests the New York Times.

Bridge Magazine News Bubble Swap

Would you like to participate in your own news source swap? Bridge Magazine will pair you with a participant with significantly different news sources, and we’ll publish some of the results.

About The Author

Ron French

Ron French is Bridge senior writer, based in Lansing. He can be reached at rfrench@bridgemi.com

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Comments

Le Roy G. Barnett
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 8:35am

This was a great experiment and story. Kudos to the author and the participants. I know nearly everyone says they want to see more cooperation between the two political parties when it comes to running government. But when most Republicans and Democrats come from two different worlds, such hoped-for teamwork is not likely to ever happen.

Barbara
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 9:18am

This was a really good article ! Loved both sides comments but see how hard it's going to be to bridge this gap ! I supposed to reach out to rural voters this year to seek common ground ! Might be a challenge even if they have same views as my relatives in Pennsylvania who I could never agree with ! Thx for doing this !

Jim
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 9:34am

This test was interesting, but...
My concern with this experiment is using someone who is somewhat unstable to begin with as a participant. If I ever got to the point where I said, "I had to turn it off because I got so irate I literally feel like I want to kill somebody." I would seek professional therapy.
I purposefully read numerous news sources for information and try to piece the real story together with the reports that I read. I tend to stay away from news sources that report on celebrity goings on. Well balanced for me is NPR, FOX, Economist, CNN, National Review, and U.S. News & World Report.
I tuned into Patriot Radio before, but found it to be opinionated, one-track-mind hosts and virtually no actual news. Dredge Report is just weird with reports (from today) like, 'Night of erotic freedom' at NYC's most exclusive sex party...' and 'Talking to your dog is sign of intelligence...' Sorry, but I can't include that with my daily dose of actual information.

Fran Darling
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 1:58pm

Yes, thanks, Jim. I found your comments to be my hang up with this article/experiment, too. In many sectors the NYT & NPR are considered mid to left - both have been highly acclaimed for high journalistic creds. Yes, I do follow the sources you mention above and others for even more in-depth. That is the key - what is the background and connections to the story/info being presented? What is the credibility of sources used? Is the data valid? IS there any real data presented, at all? Really the rt-wing "rags" just don't meet reasonable journalistic standards.

JoAnn Van Tassel
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 9:56am

As someone who has listened to NPR and to Frank Beckmann and Rush Limbaugh from time to time when I'm in my care and on a regular daily basis to WDIV-TV/NBC Nightly News and Special Report and the First 100 Days on Fox Cable News, I can understand the viewpoints of all of the participants in your experiment. I also receive the Washington Post and NY Times headline news on the internet on a daily basis. I personally feel the Washington Post and NY Times only cover part of the news coming out of Washington DC and then slant it. Fox does a little better job of covering both sides or at least having spokespersons for both liberal and conservative viewpoints on the air. I feel Martha McCallum on First 100 Days does the best job of offering both viewpoints. NBC News has the most slanted news of the news programs that I watch on a regular basis. The news media, I my opinion, has played a major part in widening the gap between people with liberal and conservative points of view. On the radio, I believe Frank Beckmann does the best job of giving air time to people on both sides of an issue. The national news media could learn from him. JoAnn Van Tassel

Angie
Sun, 04/09/2017 - 11:33am

I think that you highlight the major problem without even noticing... They are presenting "viewpoints"... you mention viewpoints repeatedly... where are the confirmed facts?? Shouldn't THAT be what is being presented in journalism??

Kevin Grand
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:02am

With the exception of John McCullough (and maybe some Sean Hannity) making <b>anyone</b> listen to The Patriot for any length of time is just pure torture!

I'd recommend listening to Michigan's Big Show or Thayrone X if you want something a little more entertaining and informative.

Anonymous
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:07am

Great experiment. I'd like to hear some solutions though..

JohnChas
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:26am

While I understand and appreciate the intent of the experiment I find the choice of news sources & voters troubling. On one hand you have mainstream centralist media like the New York Times & liberal NPR while the conservative sources are among the more extremist ones. You can compare NYT to say the Wall Street Journal but not Drudge which like Brightbart is little more than a propaganda site. Also there is no comparable source to NPR on right wing hate radio. Finally a retired engineer with a good pension & health insurance who makes a fetish out of being cheap & can afford his ignorance hardly represents many Trump voters. The same can be said of the liberal examples of the professional class who have little in common with the working class voters the Democratic party kicked to the curb in the 90's.

Angie
Sun, 04/09/2017 - 11:36am

I agree with the first half of what you said... but I think it should be taken a bit further... why aren't we comparing all of these to actual fact checking sources...

Mustafa Mohatarem
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:36am

This article demonstrates the liberal bias of the author. It would have been appropriate to point out to the liberals who objected to adds on Patriot Radio that American tax payers, both conservative and liberal, are being forced to pay for the liberal propaganda on NPR. I sure hope President Trump eliminates funding for NPR as he attempts to cut back the size of the federal government.

JohnChas
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 3:59pm

Neither the author nor the article indicate a political bias of any kind. The fact that the
article doesn't confirm your perspective isn't bias Mustafa. ( so your the Chief Economist of General Motors Corporation eh, yeah, sure)

Rob Monroe
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 11:24am

Mr. Hebron mentioned that the NYT wasn't accurate regarding some subjects on which he was knowledgeable. I would have liked some better explanation regarding subject and sources.

Steve Hawkins
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 4:49pm

Rob,
What it comes down to (IMHO) is that too many people only want to hear from those who support their general point of view. When someone says they are "knowledgeable", far too often it simply means that they have strong opinions (as opposed to true knowledge). Of course Hebron thinks the NYT is all wet, but it's likely because they don't preach to Hebron's philosphies. I'm guessing the same can be said for the other participants.

I have read/listened to multiple news sources over the years, both "conservative" and "liberal". In most instances it's easy to pick apart their stories, no matter who they are. It seems that the overriding issue here is that most have lost the ability to truly listen to both sides. They have their opinions and if the news source doesn't support that opinion completely, it's "biased". In the end, I'm not the least bit surprised by the results of this news swap experiment.

David
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 12:06pm

I never miss a chance to read the Washington Times or to periodically listen to the hate radio denizens. This is necessary to remind me of all the things I am against.

Martha Vaillancourt
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 1:54pm

I like the idea behind this experiment; I think the one sidedness is the problem! When did we stop looking at both sides & listening to each other!

Martha Vaillancourt
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 1:54pm

I like the idea behind this experiment; I think the one sidedness is the problem! When did we stop looking at both sides & listening to each other!

Kenneth Darga
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 2:38pm

Thanks for another thought-provoking article.
I use google.com/news to get news from a variety of viewpoints, selected by computer algorithm based on (I presume) what the rest of the universe is reading. (It also has a 'suggested for you' section based on your browsing history and a 'editors picks' section that reflects their editorial judgment.) Does anyone have any other suggestions about the best news aggregator for a broad cross-section of viewpoints?

Matt
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 3:58pm

The problem is that some media sources lean one way definitely or another but aren't overt, NPR for example. But you can't compare someone from NPR's stable and Sean Hannity, But rather Thom Hartman and Sean Hannity or Fox and MSNBC, whom all I find equally annoying but are perfect matches! Many conservatives have in fact abandoned talk radio for pod casts. Second Trump is not a conservative, most conservative thinkers (I didn't say politicians), are 50/50 on him ... as is your typical (not public) union leader. And yes most Republicans voted for him, but simply to avoid Hillary. A large number of Republicans I know listen to NPR (yes sometimes gritting their teeth) and BBC, there is nothing like them on the right. Fun experiment though.

Eric
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 4:26pm

Missing from this article: ONE SINGLE example of a "fact" that NPR or NYT got wrong.

Hormel
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 5:38pm

False equivalence... the right winger is an unstable, terrible person who deserves to be niserable

Wayne Falda
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 6:32pm

The Bridge is forcing a falsehood that this is a 50-50, even Steven 'battle' of two equally-armed opponents. It is not. A literate, sentient well-informed Eskimo living in the Arctic Circle can see through this mis-match. This article doesn't give anybody any insight about what goes on inside the human brain when sides are taken because many years down the road when the study of human behavior is no longer considered a 'soft' science it will be stories examining the neurochemical reactions of Homo sapiens that will provide the ultimate explanation of what really happened during this period in our history.

James Thornton
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 9:48pm

I know I am getting unbiased political ideas when I talk about some minimal health care an a Republican says I am correct. If a Republican wants to protect the things that make the republic better, better schools, less pollution, more honest government. then I will vote republican. Other wise I will tend to the Dirty Label of "Liberal" more than conservative, unless I can be shown differently.

I am scared of Mr. Trump. when he wants to get rid of a federal commission that wants to stop shady dealings with home mortgages. We do not need a do over of 2007-2008. It is only money bags people that make money then. I do not mind people have sporting guns, but I do not think people consider that it is big money promoting every one and his brother to have a gun and go and fire bullets every where. There is a myth that every one and his brother had a side arm in "The Old West". A hand gun or a rifle was a high teck piece of machinery that cost a lot of money back then. They still cost a lot if the gun is reliable and can safely be used.

I am scared of Mr. Trump because he is shooting of his mouth at everyone around who does not say they are Kock Brothers Supporters.

We have PCB s in the deepest place in the sea. The garbage from out land is getting into all the large fish in the world, and Mr. Trump is hell bent on putting more there. So yes I error on the side of Liberals. Stop trash making. Fix the environment. Stop Rich people getting richer while making more pollution in the world and hurting the down trodden.

matt
Sat, 04/08/2017 - 8:23am

FYI The Kochs didn't support Trump.

John
Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:02am

Matt, that "minor" "fact" makes no difference whatsoever. Look at what the Kochs do support. Their agenda is a mixed bag that benefits them, as much as anything. I don't see them as visionaries, but wealthy tinkerers, with us a guinea pigs.

James Thornton
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 9:55pm

My question that is biggest is how much money is promoting any hoped for new law. I have a suspicion that laws to protect the least of people, The Poor people are most likely to get shut off. The other side of this is the laws that are likely to protect Mr. Money bags money and Business are so much more likely to get passed. Ie. The Savings and Loan problem was not done by poor people for rich people. It was done so some rich people could get richer, with the backing of a lot of money from some where. Dark Money.

PepperReed
Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:04pm

Really, you need to have some decent conservative media in the game if this "swap" is going to be relevant. Drudge report? Really? UGH. Regardless of it's bias, it's just crap 'reporting'. Try The American Conservative, or The Cato Institute or National Review or Reason Magazine. There are plenty of options for real, intelligent conservative news reporting and commentary, and I say that as a Progressive!

I read all of those on occasion (and TAC/Reason on the regular), typical liberal sources of NPR/PBS, etc., BBC (print and otherwise), plus other non-American journalism to get a perspective that tries to be a bit more well-rounded. I may not like or agree with all the information that is presented on the conservative side, but it's a far sight better than the majority of the Angry White Dude radio hour that passes itself off as something legit, when in reality it's just Alternative Fact info-tainment.

John S.
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 12:24am

Political orientations based on the findings of twin studies are partly heritable--perhaps those at the extremes of the ideological scale just can't help themselves. There's ample research on "levels of conceptualization" which shows that most Americans (perhaps 80%) don't conceptualize politics in ideological terms. Ask them what the words "liberal" and "conservative" mean and you'll get an answer but be surprised at how little they have to say. Where's Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and John Chancellor when we need them? There's something to be said for a public that gets its news from similar and widely trusted sources.

Nathan DuPhene
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 2:01am

WHERE WAS THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA?

NPR is ostensibly independent, but they take grants from foundations and businesses. The Walton Family Foundation makes sure no bad news about Wal Mart ever makes it onto NPR. Drudge and Rush Limbaugh could have been substituted for The Blaze, Mike Cernovich, and The National Review perhaps.

If our Troy conservative wanted some eye-opening news, he could go to TYT (Young Turks) or Democracy Now, Thom Hartmann, Lee Camp, or any other of the multitude of independent news sources.

Garbage in = garbage out. Let's get people evaluating independent news instead of mainstream propaganda!

Robyn Tonkin
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 8:06am

I was very interested to read how often the people profiled in this piece look at the news during the day, it seemed excessive. Mr. Hebron's almost constant backdrop of talk radio seemed really excessive. I don't own a smart phone or tablet. I am typing on a chromebook that our daughter gave her dad as I don't own a computer. I have already figured out that I am the last middle of the road person left in the United States. I wonder how many people are left in this country who truly think in a self actuated way. I never listen to people spouting personal opinions on the radio, don't read them on the internet, rarely in magazines. The talking head blather on tv and in videos has become a torrent of stream of consciousness blather by people with an oral fixation that is expressed as speech. They just open their mouths and bray. Why should I waste my time listening to or reading the opinions of people I don't know, when too many people I do know force their opinions on me, and you can't always escape that. Strangers' opinions are worthless and meaningless, as far as my existence is concerned as they add nothing of value to my life, and hence, do nothing but waste my time. If I agree with them, that doesn't stroke my vanity, if I don't agree, well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. So, reading or listening to opinions makes me feel the seconds tick away, and as each one waves bye-bye, I feel it's demise keenly. There's a whole world out there that has nothing to do with political gossip and chit chat, which is what the internet "print news" is mostly about. Typically, a tiny nugget that may or may not be true is blown into something stupendous or catastrophic, depending on the slant. Sometimes I will begin plowing into the text of a "news" story and think three things after reading for a short while a. this is poorly written b. this story is way too long c. this piece is mind numbingly boring, especially when the article includes a bunch of "feeds" from stuff I know little about, like twitter.
Small independent outlets like The Bridge and Circle of Blue do a good job, but I don't read those every day. I'm too busy living my life. There are hikes to take, gardens to put in, drywall to finish, grandsons to read stories to, dogs to play with, husbands to be hold hands and walk with, buttons to sew on, meals to prepare, private thoughts to think. I get all my local print papers in the mail, and I read them, because locally is where I live. Also, locally is where you really understand how many problems this country has that are being left to local people to somehow deal with--not solve--somehow handle on an ad hoc basis. We could solve our problems, but we choose not to. We've zoned out.

John Q. Public
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 8:22pm

Robyn:
Will you be my friend?

John
Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:13am

Robyn, Axios is another fine source for some stuff since the articles are very short. I agree that news needs to be more concisely delivered. I think the press of deadline delivery and low wages tend to discourage real newspaper like reporting these days. Sometimes the TV news is all fluff and gossip. And with all the cool video out there, too. Still, what is the national level newspaper that has a conservative bent but is not merely a propaganda organ? There isn't one. Conservatives hit on the NYT because they cannot compete. The Wall Street Journal is the best they have as daily and it's mostly about making and spending money obscenely. Drudge Report is like BuzzFeed. It's not news, like Reuters, BBC, DW, FR24, or any internationally recognized reputable news source. The supposedly comparable news sources are not comparable in quality. Not even close. I think that is a serious point undermining the point of this article. Conservatives live on intellectual junk food, not nourishing information.

Edwin Lord
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 9:19am

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/magazine/those-indecipherable-medical...

Listed above is a link pertaining to the cost of health care. This is an issue everyone can relate to. The article is from the New York Times. Perhaps, if the focus was on issues instead of poltics the chances of a conseus on issues could be reach and the next step find a solution.

Richard_Layne_S...
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 10:30am

I listen to both sides of issues and routinely discuss world events and politics with family and friends, some who are extremely conservative and some extremely liberal. The interesting thing is that there are bits of truth on both sides, yet people tend to migrate to extreme positions rather than using common sense and their own judgment. Too often I notice that people will simply parrot what they hear spewed on their favorite "news channel". Let's keep in mind that many of those we see on the air are not journalists but rather are providing their own slanted views and opinions. The answer? Be a free-thinker! Form your own opinions based on listening to both sides! When you do think freely and critically you will find that issues are much more complex than black/white, right/left, or liberal/conservative. I will give you one example, abortion. While I am pro life, I have come to the realization that we cannot eliminate abortion without serious and disastrous consequences. Banning abortion is no different than the impossibility of banning drug and alcohol abuse. These battles cannot be won through legislation or through the courts. They can only be won in the hearts and minds beginning in our own homes and through a change in behavior and values in our society. As a conservative I do not want to lose another election due to the already lost fight over Roe vs Wade. Let the Good Lord be the Judge. This war has been waged and the pro life movement lost. I can move on from it with the knowledge that we did all we could and the courts have decided. The fight is over from a legislative perspective.

Lisa
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 11:21am

This reminded of my self-imposed news swap last year. I was a Bernie supporter immediately and needed no more confirmation of my worldview. I decided about last April to immerse myself in the alternative fact zone of my son-in-law. So I went to YouTube and every day I listened to hours of Alex Jones, Gerald Celente, Stefan Molyneux, Greg Hunter, and various others in fringe libertarian right wing talk. I found many of the same selective facts, no facts, spin, lack of respect etc that they project onto "librul" MSM. I did get exposed to what drives the anger on the right and it is potent. The Trump message of MAGA comes from the globalist conspiracy these guys ( particularly Alex Jones) rant about . As soon as I saw Roger Stone begin to appear regularly I knew the crap was being flung and hard against Hillary. Stone is a hardcore ruthless attack dog and fixer for the right wing since Nixon. At the feverish apex of pre-election apocalyptic predictions on the results of a Hillary win I had to turn it off. No one is being helped by right wing hate, that's it, the whole thing in a sentence.

Sonja Galovics
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 1:00pm

Two against one, the typical liberal way! I read a lot and I watch TV news, CNN, Fox, local and PBS. The Liberals are acting better than any comedy on television. I cannot tell you how entertaining they are.....I laugh so much. Really guys, you are making such fools of yourselves. Get over it....you lost and trying to make the other side look bad is not working for you.

Bernadette
Fri, 04/07/2017 - 9:37pm

I have asked senior management at Bridge if they could use some of their town hall meetings to have a "facilitated conversation" inviting both sides of the aisle participate. Getting people in the same room, setting ground rules and having a discussion about "policy" rather than "politics" would be very helpful. We are all Americans, with a common interest of our country.

I think we are all guilty of listening to media that supports our own bias, having a face to face conversation is always better. This must start somewhere. This last elections solved nothing, since we are still so polarized. Policy should drive budgets. Washington in my mind is full of a bunch of spoiled little boys trying to prove something.

Cindy Bogner
Sun, 04/09/2017 - 7:56am

What "facts" is Hebron contesting? Understanding that is critical to this experiment.

Nab
Sun, 04/09/2017 - 1:52pm

I'd love to know colleges of participants. I wish there were an experiment that has conservatives listen to Rachel Maddow for several weeks. She is brilliant and invariably charming to guests of any ilk.

Anonymous
Sun, 04/09/2017 - 4:04pm

I would like to point out that this project was NOT an "experiment". The term experiment refers to a very specific set of criteria, including random assignment to conditions and the manipulation of a variable(s). All experiments may be STUDIES....but not all studies are EXPERIMENTS. This may seem like a trivial distinction to some, but I believe it points to the bigger issue represented here...... that most people don't have correct knowledge (including the "developers" of this project) and most people don't know the difference between fact and opinion.

walkerhds@yahoo.com
Sun, 04/09/2017 - 5:40pm

I am sorry, but the dude from Troy comes off as a typical wannabe trumpfelcher.... he is an example of what is wrong with the country, and while he might have been college educated, I get the feeling they didn't require much critical thinking to get him his degree.

Michael Reid
Mon, 04/10/2017 - 2:29pm

This right winger is typical of right wingers-- belligerent, petulant, raging, and face down and drowning in the trough of toxic Fox slop. Another hapless but eager victim of the right wing lie, hate & filth machine

C Summers
Tue, 04/11/2017 - 1:38pm

I think you set things up a bit wrong using Jezebel and Drudge Report. Too much spice. Robyn Tonkin made the most sense but then I'm from Ohio. You'll find me down on the towpath most days. The Cuyahoga makes more sense than anything in the "news".

Richard B.
Wed, 04/12/2017 - 5:41am

The most interesting thing in this story was Leija's comment about being frustrated in not knowing what stories were important on Drudge due to most being the same text size. To me that points to the modern "Liberal" need to be told from some accepted authority what is and is not important. The best thing about Drudge's site is not necessarily what he chooses to link, but rather the all on one page links to numerous news sources.

While our choice of news/information sources may shape our view on what is or is not true, eliminating the dichotomy in this regard between political/cultural tribes won't alone eliminate the divide in this country. While the absence of shared facts is certainly another major barrier to civil discourse and social harmony, shared facts don't necessitate agreement. Even if I as a libertarian conceded to the "Liberal" belief that anthropomorphic climate change was a factual threat to this world, I would still not agree to their solutions that revolve around socialist ideas and the formation of centralized global governmental control of human activity. There's very real diversity of values in this country, and exposing antagonistic sides to each other's news sources isn't going to bridge that divide, it's as likely to exacerbate the hostility.

To use myself as an example, I've lived all over the world, I have political science degree from a Canadian university where my favorite professor was a self described Marxist, I have worked in the film industry and as such been surrounded by "Liberal" view points, many of whom I called friend, I'm a news junkie and will read everything from Zerohedge to the Guardian, from 'The Donald' to 'The Democratic Underground' forum. Yet here I am a Ron Paul supporting, Alex Jones listening, libertarian who wandered in on this article in a random search to tell you many of us in one entrenched political camp or another do not do so out of ignorance of others view points, differing sets of facts, or because we live in an echo chamber.

John
Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:23am

So, with all your education and experience, you ended up as an anarchist? What part of human history are you willing to support as valid then? Anything more than 7,000 years ago? There is no such thing as a libertarian You guys made that up to sound nicer than what your beliefs come out as in plain English and in context. It's an intellectual exercise lacking in practical applicablity. Alex Jones is a crackpot extremist. Allthat hardly qualifies you as some intellectual guru. Apparently none of the good sense you were exposed to rubbed off. We live in a community in which mutual support means mutual success. Those who take its benefits but will not share the burdens, our modern "conservatives" as they call themselves, are America's biggest dangers, because they lack a world view that corresponds with respect for others as having equal rights to the same dream. That means we have to share. Conservatives seem to hate sharing above all else.

Disgruntled Taxpayer
Tue, 05/16/2017 - 9:31am

Conservatives in Copper Harbor? The author has clearly never been to Copper Harbor.