One fewer viewpoint on ‘The View’ is a loss for civil political debate

Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth HasselbeckIt’s sad, but no surprise, to see Elisabeth Hasselbeck leave ABC’s “The View” for a new gig as cohost of “Fox and Friends.” And it’s also a loss for people of all political beliefs.

For years, Hasselbeck has been the sole contrarian voice on the show, often taking a more conservative view than the other four hosts: Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd and Barbara Walters.

Frankly I am relieved for Hasselbeck. I felt stress for her because she was often outnumbered, even ganged up upon. Many conservative women know this feeling, from college or young single life, where our views are unpopular among our peers.

But Hasselbeck’s departure is a real loss to the show, and represents a broader trend of an increasingly polarized public space.

Hasselbeck did conservative women a great service during her time on “The View.” She provided a much-needed voice for Americans who identify as conservative. For many young women, she was a unique role model in the mainstream media.

But Hasselbeck was also providing a service to liberal and progressive viewers, even if they didn’t recognize it. Rather than toeing the line, she provided some pushback and challenged the other hosts. For some “View” viewers, Hasselbeck might have been the only challenging voice they heard.

It’s important and healthy for us to learn about what other people believe and why they believe it, even if in the end we agree to disagree. This skill — civil exchange of ideas — is becoming more and more rare as our country becomes more politically polarized.

As Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing wrote in their 2008 book “The Big Sort,” Americans are increasingly living in politically like-minded neighborhoods. In 1976, only 27 percent of counties in the U.S. went for Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford by 20 percentage points or more. In 2004, 48 percent of American counties went for Bush or Gore by more than 20 points. Basically, there’s a trend indicating that Americans are retreating to live among people with whom we share political views.

It seems our TV shows are following suit. Too often, ideologues appear on television shows to congratulate one another on “how right we are!”

The alternative — contrived debate between two talking heads — is not much better. The usual result is a 30-second talking-point competition. It is increasingly rare to hear an in-depth public discussion between genuine, well-meaning parties who disagree.

I’m happy for Hasselbeck, and I hope she excels on “Fox and Friends.” But her exit from “The View” is a loss — and not just for conservatives like me.

Comments

Jimmy Kimmel 'censors' Obama

Thanks to some mischievous editing from Jimmy Kimmel, these originally innocent TV clips will put your mind straight in the gutter.

Jon Stewart: Fox News is 'killing' him

As his days on the Daily Show wind down, Jon Stewart wants to make sure we are all aware how much he really, really hates Fox News.

Jay Carney is going to work for Amazon

Imagining an Amazon customer service call with Jay Carney on the line.

Ron Swanson, libertarian visionary

We're sad to say that "Parks and Rec" has aired its finale episode, leaving a Pawnee-shaped hole in our hearts.

Jon Stewart defends Bill O'Reilly

Bill O’Reilly, whom a Mother Jones report has accused of Brian-Williams-like war reporting exaggerations, has an unlikely defender: his long-time sparring partner, Jon Stewart.

White House

Calling for cooperation, Obama engages in confrontation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid appeals for bipartisanship, President Barack Obama in just three days has provoked Republicans on issues as disparate as immigration, Wall Street and the Keystone XL pipeline — a combative mix of defense and offense that underscores Washington's political realignment.

It’s on: Obama follows through and vetoes Keystone pipeline

Defying the Republican-run Congress, President Barack Obama rejected a bill Tuesday to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, wielding his veto power for only the third time in his presidency.

Biden: The middle class is ‘being killed,’ in worse shape than any time since the ’20s

Joe Biden—everyone’s favorite creeper and truth-bomb-dropper.

MSNBC Host: Obama’s terrorism summit is a ‘dog and pony show’
You know it’s bad when President Obama has even lost the support of MSNBC. MSNBC Host Andrea Mitchell basically called the White House’s Summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” a farce during her show Wednesday. “Here he has the summit, no heads of government coming, the participation has not been at a particularly high level. We’ll have […]
Obama assures ‘almost complete confidence’ there have been no NSA abuses

The president’s interview with Re/code over the weekend touched on privacy issues, with Obama insisting with “almost complete confidence” that there have been no abuses of the government’s vast surveillance program.

Congress

Rand Paul calls on Hillary to retire

Rand Paul’s speech at CPAC Friday felt a lot like a campaign rally—and the crowd left little room to doubt that they wanted it that way, breaking out into chants of “President Paul! President Paul!” at least three times over the course of his remarks.

Cruz: Obama, Carter similarities 'uncanny'
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has his sights set on 2016, but he is not very optimistic about what will happen both at home and abroad in the mean time. Cruz laid out his predictions for the direction he believes President Obama is leading the country in during a round table event with reporters and bloggers […]
Cruz calls Lynch vote 'heartbreaking'
Loretta Lynch won approval from a key Senate committee Thursday to serve as the nation’s next attorney general, as divided Republicans clashed over her support for President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. The 12 to 8 vote in the Judiciary Committee sent Lynch’s nomination to the full Senate. Three Republicans joined all committee Democrats in voting “yes.” […]
It's Warren 2015, not '16

There seems to be a lot of talk about political "branding" lately. Allow Elizabeth Warren to take a crack at it.

Rand Paul calls Giuliani comments

Rand Paul pushed back on Rudy Giuliani’s controversial comments about Obama’s lack of patriotism, saying he prefers to question policy rather than motive.