Americans are being played against one another because our media consumption is reinforcing the idea that we’re more different than alike. Because that’s what shares. Because that’s what builds their social media reach. Because that’s what results in better scale for native and programmatic advertising. Because news outlets have to do this to survive.
Many outlets now are essentially profitable creative agencies that take advantage of large social media followings that were built by loss-leading news divisions. This generation’s foremost media entrepreneur, Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti, built his entire business on this notion. From an (incredible) interview with felix salmon in 2014: