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Politics, media and the lost art of big-tent building | TheHill – The Hill

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Mainstream news media share an urgent dilemma with America’s political parties: It seems nobody knows how to build a big tent anymore.

The latest Pew Research study shows yet another decline in media trust, now half of what it was in 2016. The main culprit this time is a widening partisan gap: While most Democrats have at least some confidence in national news outlets, very few Republicans do.

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE’s “fake news” mantra has a lot to do with that. But so does this: The parties are increasingly dividing themselves along educational and class lines. And too often the press seems tailored to the concerns of only one voter category, leaving others outside the tent, feeling ignored or dismissed.

Advocates for broader-based politics have been focused this month on Ezra Klein’s New York Times essay, detailing the views of election data analyst David Shor. According to Shor, the Democratic party is no longer a big-tent enterprise — it has lost touch with a once-solid bloc of working-class voters while courting the professional class.

Over the past several years, Democrats have gained among white college graduates while losing non-college whites to the Republicans. In 2020, that trend expanded: Democrats also lost ground with non-college Black and Latino voters.

As the affluent and educated became a larger share of the party’s base, Shor argues they shifted the political focus away from bread-and-butter blue-collar issues. The Democrats’ big tent got smaller. Polarization, much of it along class lines, increased.

National journalism faces a similar predicament. A 2018 study found that 44 percent of the editorial staff at the New York Times went to an elite university; at the Wall Street Journal, that number was nearly half. According to the survey, reporters and editors at these two outlets are likely to have the same educational background as Forbes billionaires and attendees of the famously exclusive Davos conference. They’re more likely to have gone to an elite college than most judges and members of Congress.

And, as journalism has been forced to rely on expensive subscription fees for financial health, the target news consumer has come to mirror the educational and economic background of most national journalists.

This doesn’t affect the quality of reporting, but it can skew just which stories get covered. Many leading news outlets too often feature more than their fair share of articles and segments about Harvard’s endowment or a controversy at Yale. Elite secondary schools in major media hubs like New York seem to merit as much attention as local crime and infrastructure. This material sometimes reads less like a general-interest media product and more like a newsletter published by an exclusive club for members only.

At the same time, the real-life concerns of the working-class electorate can go under-reported or misunderstood, whether in small towns or blue-collar inner-city neighborhoods. During Trump’s administration, journalists struggled to figure out his appeal and repeatedly fell back on a predictable feature of political coverage: helicoptering into heartland diners like anthropologists, to examine his supporters in their natural habitats. 

Some of that same approach emerged in New York’s Democratic mayoral primary. Eric Adams, a Black tough-on-crime former police captain, defeated progressive candidates thanks to diverse blue-collar voters in every borough of the city. National news outlets seemed at loss to explain it, with headlines like: “What Does Eric Adams, Working Class Champion, Mean for Democrats?”

For a lot of working-class news consumers, it’s easy to read or view all of the above and decide mainstream media is not really aimed at them.

This would be less troubling if most cities and towns still had at least one vibrant newspaper, let alone several. Or if local television newsrooms were expanding, not contracting. Consumers in general trust their local news more than national outlets, because they do speak to everyday issues more clearly.

But the sharp decline in local outlets means journalism — like politics — has become nationalized. Just as the Democratic party’s focus on higher socio-economic voters is arguably driving the working-class away, so too the points-of-view at most mainstream national news outlets may push these same people into news bubbles that stoke media mistrust.

The New York Times — standard-bearer of elite journalism ­— is now actually searching for ways to combat this trend and build a bigger news tent. The paper last month set up a team to look into and address the erosion of trust in media. A Times insider told Vanity Fair the team’s mission is to “broaden the Times’ readership … Broader means all kinds of readers, including politically … more who are middle class and lower class and so on.”

The Times’ effort is worth keeping an eye on — and rooting for.

Easing class polarization in news consumption may not end the political divide. But that deepening disconnect certainly won’t get any better unless mainstream journalism can re-establish itself as the central source of reliable information — no matter your politics, education or income.

Joe Ferullo is an award-winning media executive, producer and journalist and former executive vice president of programming for CBS Television Distribution. He was a news executive for NBC, a writer-producer for “Dateline NBC” and worked for ABC News. Follow him on Twitter @ironworker1.

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Don’t exploit migrants for politics, pope says on Lesbos visit – Aljazeera.com

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Pope Francis has denounced Europe’s fear and indifference to migrants on his second visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.

Pope Francis has blasted Europe’s indifference to the plight of migrants as the “shipwreck of civilisation” during a visit to a refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos.

On Sunday, the leader of the Catholic Church arrived at the Mavrovouni camp, where nearly 2,200 asylum seekers currently reside. He is on the second day of a five-day-long visit to Greece and Cyprus dominated by the issue of migration.

“I ask every man and woman, all of us, to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes,” he said. “Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilisation.”

Using latin terms, he called for the Mediterranean Sea to remain a bridge between cultures.

“Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) be transformed into a desolate sea of death (mare mortuum),” he said.

He also condemned the exploitation of migrants for political purposes, lamenting that Europe had entered “an era of walls and barbed wire”.

Pope Francis has criticised the indifference and self-interest shown by Europe towards migrants [Alessandra Tarantino/AP]

The pope last visited Lesbos in 2016, when more than one million people crossed from Turkey into Greece and the island became one of the busiest crossing points. On that occasion, Francis brought 12 Syrian Muslim refugees home with him aboard the papal plane.

No such transfers were announced this time around, but the visit to the camp nonetheless raised hopes among its residents, some of whom have given birth to children while waiting for their asylum claims to be processed.

Enice Kiaku, from Congo, gave birth to Guiliain two years ago. He was born on the Greek island but has no identity documents.

“The arrival of the pope here makes us feel blessed,” Kiaku told The Associated Press. “We have a lot of problems here as refugees, a lot of suffering.”

Francis was greeted upon arrival by a group of African women who sung for him. He patted the heads of children and babies as he toured the camp and posed for selfies.

Pope Francis greeted children in Mavrovouni camp on the Greek island on Lesbos. [Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters]

He was accompanied by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

Greece has recently built a steel wall along a section of its border with Turkey and is intercepting boats transporting migrants from the Turkish side.

It denies allegations that it is carrying out summary deportations of migrants reaching Greek territory but human rights groups say numerous such pushbacks have occurred.

Francis also listened to the camp’s residents, among whom was Christian Tango Mukaya, a Congolese father of three, who thanked the pope for his show of solidarity and for his appeal to Europe.

The refugee said he lost track of his wife and their third child in their journey and was hoping his visibility with the pope might reunite them.

Mavrovouni is a temporary holding centre pending the construction on the island of a “closed controlled facility”.

These new closed camps, which are funded by the European Union, are already running on three other Greek islands, Samos, Leros and Kos.

Amnesty International has said that new EU-funded detention camps on Greek islands are in violation of Athens’ commitments to provide international protection to those in need.

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Sudan’s al-Burhan says army will exit politics after 2023 vote – Aljazeera.com

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Top general says Sudan’s military will not participate in politics after a civilian government is elected in 2023.

Sudan’s military chief says the army will leave politics after elections that are scheduled for 2023.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan offered the assurance during one of several interviews he gave to international news agencies on Saturday.

The general had led a military takeover in late October, upending Sudan’s transition to civilian-led democracy, but a deal struck on November 21 has reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to lead a technocratic Cabinet until elections in July 2023.

“When a government is elected, I don’t think the army, the armed forces, or any of the security forces will participate in politics. This is what we agreed on and this is the natural situation,” al-Burhan told the Reuters news agency.

The coup, which ended a partnership with civilian political parties after the toppling of long time ruler Omar al-Bashir, drew international condemnation after the detention of dozens of key officials and crackdowns on protesters.

Neighbourhood resistance committees and political parties have called for the military to exit politics immediately and have rejected any compromise, including the deal with Hamdok. At least 44 people have died during demonstrations, many from gunshot wounds from security forces, according to medics.

“Investigations regarding the victims of the protests have begun to identify who has done this … and to punish the criminals,” al-Burhan said, adding that security forces had only dispersed non-peaceful protests.

Al-Bashir has been jailed since his overthrow on corruption and other charges. Along with several other Sudanese suspects, he is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The civilian government dissolved in the coup had approved al-Bashir’s handover, but the military has yet to agree.

“We have understandings with the International Criminal Court for the appearance [of suspects] before the judiciary or before the court,” al-Burhan said. “We have remained in dialogue with the court on how to do right by the victims.”

In the aftermath of the coup, many civilian bureaucrats were dismissed or transferred and replaced with al-Bashir-era veterans in decisions Hamdok has sought to reverse.

Al-Burhan said on Saturday that al-Bashir’s former ruling party would have no role in the transition.

“We will work together so that the National Congress Party will not be a part of the transition in any form,” he said.

Sudan is in a deep economic crisis, though an influx of international economic support had begun to be felt before much of it was suspended after the coup.

Al-Burhan said he expected the backing to return once a civilian government is formed, indicating that the country would not reverse reforms enacted over the past two years by reinstating subsidies or returning to printing money.

“The international community including the African Union is watching what will happen in the coming days,” he told the AFP news agency.

“I believe there are positive indicators that things will return [to how they were] soon. The formation of a civilian government will put things back in order.”

Though Western nations and the African Union have spoken out against the coup, diplomats say Russia, which is seeking to develop a naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast, has been cultivating ties with military leaders.

A deal for the base has yet to be finalised, al-Burhan told Reuters.

“We hope that our relations [with Russia] will become stronger with the signature of this agreement,” he said. “Consultations are continuing and we are working on the agreement until it becomes acceptable and legal.”

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Biden and Putin to hold video call on Tuesday, will discuss Ukraine

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U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a video call on Tuesday to deal with military tensions over Ukraine other topics.

Biden wants to discuss U.S. concerns about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border, a U.S. source said on Saturday, as well as strategic stability, cyber and regional issues.

“We’re aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday as he departed for a weekend trip to Camp David. “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” he said.

The two will also talk about bilateral ties and the implementation of agreements reached at their Geneva summit in June, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

“The conversation will indeed take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “Bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the realisation of the agreements reached in Geneva are the main (items) on the agenda,” he said.

More than 94,000 Russian troops are massed near Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/large-scale-russian-offensive-possible-january-ukraine-says-2021-12-03 that Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive for the end of January, citing intelligence reports.

Biden will reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the U.S. source said. The exact timing of the call was not disclosed. The White House declined to comment.

The U.S. president on Friday said he and his advisers are preparing a comprehensive set of initiatives aimed at deterring Putin from an invasion. He did not give further details, but the Biden administration has discussed partnering with European allies to impose more sanctions on Russia.

Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up. It has dismissed as inflammatory suggestions that it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.

U.S. officials say they do not know yet what Putin’s intentions are, adding while intelligence points to preparations for a possible invasion of Ukraine, it is unclear whether a final decision to do so has been made.

U.S.-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and U.S. intelligence charges of meddling in the 2016 election won by now-former President Donald Trump.

But they have become more volatile in recent months.

The Biden administration has asked Moscow to crack down on ransomware and cyber crime attacks emanating from Russian soil, and in November charged https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-seizes-6-mln-ransom-payments-charge-ukrainian-over-cyberattack-cnn-2021-11-08 a Ukraine national and a Russian in one of the worst ransomware attacks against American targets.

Russia has repeatedly denied carrying out or tolerating cyber attacks.

The two leaders have had one face-to-face meeting since Biden took office in January, sitting down for talks in Geneva last June. They last talked by phone on July 9. Biden relishes direct talks with world leaders, seeing them as a way to lower tensions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister ” https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/blinken-urges-russias-lavrov-take-diplomatic-exit-ukraine-crisis-2021-12-02 Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm earlier this week that the United States and its European allies would impose “severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine.”

(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in WashingtonEditing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell)

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