Episode

1/7 Fault Lines: a History of the United States Since 1974 w/ Kevin M. Kruse & Julian E. Zelizer

January 7, 2019

Good morning on today’s show, Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) and Julian E. Zelizer (@julianzelizer), co-authors of Fault Lines A History of the United States Since 1974.

Professors Kruse and Zelizer from Princeton University’s History Department join the Majority Report to discuss their latest book, Fault Lines A History of the United States Since 1974. Kruse and Zelizer start our contemporary political moment at Nixon’s resignation, and draw out the areas in which our understanding of America shifts from the New Deal union, manufacturing-based economy to one of free enterprise and laissez-faire economics. Beyond economic changes of the 70s and 80s, there was a growing distrust of the federal government. Zelizer describes how the normalization of government shutdowns which have become a standard part of policy battles in Washington has had a negative impact on our discourse.

These fault lines extend to social issues as well, particularly gender and sexuality. Kruse explains how the growth of feminism and the reaction to it, the “family values” & “moral majority” movement, covered a huge swath of social issues that are still debated today–driving Americans further into their selected voting camps. Amidst all these fault lines is the news media. Zelizer explains how Fox News and conservative media in particular have reshaped and fractured the media landscape. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 is the pivotal moment in policy which allowed right wing talk radio and Fox to gain a stranglehold on the conservative narrative. An overlooked by-product of the Fairness Doctrine is the dramatization of the news, according to Kruse the news media has turned from a dour and even-keeled information enterprise to a freewheeling, pro-wrestling, high-stakes drama designed to keep viewers hooked on its 24-hour news cycle. Finally, Zelizer and Kruse push back against the false equivalency that “both sides” created these fault lines, especially in the media narrative–most of these issues were driven to further extremes by conservative activists and political actors. Sam ends the interview asking Kruse and Zelizer if they think the GOP has been anything other than party of white grievance politics–their answers will surprise you (maybe)!

And in the Fun Half: CNN is “fair and balanced,” Anderson Cooper is incredulous when he learns Trump might be a racist, the Gateway pundit has put the final nail in AOC (Sandy’s) coffin, Stuart Varney is enraged by the idea of marginal tax rate, Tulsi Gabbard’s uncomfortable ties to Modi and the Hindu nationalist organizations, the uncomfortable reality of an uninformed electorate, Dave Rubin stands up for Jair Bolsonaro, Christian Bale thanks Satan for inspiring his performance as Dick Chaney, plus your calls and IMs!

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