The Fate of American Democracy Is in the Hands of Cable News

The 2020 presidential election could very well be messycomplex, and slow, defined by an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, legal challenges, and possibly recounts reminiscent of the fiasco in Florida in 2000. And cable news, which millions of people will be watching throughout election night, is pathologically incapable of dealing with messy, complex, and slow stories. The networks are designed for easy answers that feed simple narratives, and they have shown a tendency to be short-circuited by Donald Trump’s chicanery. He will undoubtedly spend Tuesday evening desperately spinning a victory, and how cable networks respond may profoundly impact the result of the election.

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