The media’s reluctance to talk about gerrymandering, let alone address the oversized effect it has in state and federal elections, has allowed American democracy to quietly come to be much less representative. As moves construct in the back of redistricting reform, the query stays: Will television news ever care about gerrymandering?
A study conducted by Media Matters found that cable news mentioned gerrymandering in only five segments airing between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. During that identical time period, broadcast morning news and nightly newscasts didn’t speak about gerrymandering at all. And this isn’t a new trend; for years, media have shown a reluctance to discuss gerrymandering and redistricting. Given the outsized influence partisan and racial gerrymandering has on American democracy, these issues deserve more coverage.
Partisan gerrymandering is not exactly new. Since 2010, Republicans have taken it to a brand new degree. The associated Press (AP) determined that within the 2016 election, gerrymandering helped create the situations that led to “4 instances as many states with Republican-skewed state residence or assembly districts than Democratic ones.” moreover, “most of the dozen most populated states that decide the good sized majority of Congress, there have been nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. residence districts.” As university of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone wrote for HuffPost, “even though partisan gerrymandering has been with us from the beginning, it’s miles now worse than ever, because laptop modeling permits legislators to layout districts that nearly exactly maximize their political gain.”
Racial gerrymandering — which involves “spreading minorities across voting districts, leaving them too few in number in any given district to opt for their desired candidates,” or “concentrating the minority vote in certain districts” — has also helped Republicans hold on to their majority. As The Washington Post’s Wonkblog explained, “Since the minority electorate leans liberal, packing minorities has the same effect as packing Democrats, causing the district map to favor Republicans in the same way it favors whites.” The New York Times’ editorial board described the radical racial gerrymandering that resulted in unconstitutional districts in North Carolina as the GOP’s “unscrupulous efforts to fence off black communities.”
As Republicans attack the heart of American democracy, media coverage has been lacking, to say the least. At the same time, activists and politicians from each facets of the aisle have been calling for impartial, nonpartisan businesses to take the rate on redistricting in the close to destiny. With momentum rising, the question stays: Will media, specifically broadcast and cable information, ever care about gerrymandering? Up to now, the answer appears to be no.