The mainstream media relies on conflict. Conflict and tension make for compelling television, so mainstream media outlets like to pick right versus left; conservative versus liberal. In fact, this promotion of a United States political dichotomy in order to create tension-filled compelling television programming may be responsible for the deep political divide in the country.
Real-world political views are never as simple or as divisive. Just take a 2016 interview on the Fox News Channel with Thor Havlorssen. Thor Halvorssen is the 39-year-old founder of the Human Rights Foundation. He was brought on to the notoriously conservative-leaning news broadcast in order to slam socialism.
Thor Halvorssen is a world-famous human rights activist who got his start as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. The young college student’s father was imprisoned in Venezuela by a socialist dictator. His father was imprisoned and beaten for more than two months before his release could be secured by Amnesty International and other human rights groups with the help of the young Thor Halvorssen. Fox News assumed that the human rights advocate was against socialism from this early life experience.
The interview was also intended to slam then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Sen. Sanders is an outspoken democratic socialist and was in the running to become the Democratic nominee for president. Getting out ahead of the election, Fox News saw this interview with Thor Halvorssen as an opportunity to attack the possible liberal presidential candidate.
Thor Halvorssen is not against democratic socialism. In fact, during the interview, he brought up many examples of successful democratic socialist governments across the world. Socialism, he explained to the stunned Fox News anchor, is not the problem. He articulately explained that a lack of separation of powers within a government is the problem. When too much political power is centralized into one figure without checks and balances, that dictator is capable of human rights abuses.
He then went on to stunned the interviewer even further by saying that he donated to the Bernie Sanders campaign. While he himself is a free-market capitalist, he saw Bernie Sanders human rights record as the best amongst all candidates.