356 pages ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
"For years, we were promised the Internet would make our politics more open and inclusive. And its influence has certainly been decisive: the 2016 election was debated, won, and lost on social media and the Internet. But with Facebook and Twitter embroiled in controversy over privacy issues, ongoing revelations about foreign interference through hacking and social media trolls, and coverage of controversial viral videos monopolizing the attention of the press, it's increasingly unclear whether the Internet is a benign public arena, let alone one for the public good. In Political Junkies, historian Claire Potter explains how we got here by situating today's online politics in a much longer history of new media technologies repurposed for political purposes, including independent newsletters, talk radio, direct mail, and cable television. Beginning in the 1950s, pioneers across the political spectrum, from I.F. Stone to Phyllis Schlafly, used these tools to create increasingly influential political media that were entrepreneurial, alarming, and sharply partisan. Simultaneously, traditional media outlets embraced the same technologies and expanded their ideas about what counted as political news. Cheap and free digital tools introduced in the 1990s simply further sped transformations already under way: email became an inexpensive form of direct mail, blogging updated the political newsletter for a wider audience, and YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter ads displaced vintage campaign commercials. The results were evident in the insurgent presidential campaigns of John McCain and Howard Dean, the hashtag activism of the early 2010s, and of course, the rise of Donald Trump. The Internet and social media made the populist insurgency of 2016 possible, but so too did a far longer transformation in our political media. In today's online world, political engagement has never been greater, but trust in political institutions and processes has never been more fragile. To understand why, Potter argues, we must avoid the shock of the present and look to history. For anyone lost in the online wilderness or the thread of some political argument, Political Junkies is essential reading for understanding how the Internet became the defining feature of 21st century politics"-- Provided by publisher.
9781541645004 electronic book