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Why We're Polarized

Ezra Klein, founder of Vox, details how media incentives, demographic shifts, and the internet / niche news have resulted in natural polarization in America. Full disclosure: I went into this book skeptical, but tried to give it as fair of a chance as I could. Overall, his thesis is fine, and he even comes close to recognizing his own active role in the problem, but stops just shy. He’s astute at pointing out how right wing media, catering to the white, middle class in America, has polarized center-right.

But, he misses the chance to dive deeply into how he is also culpable via Vox, which generates traffic on outrage, oversimplification of complex issues, and one-sided reporting. In fact, by so lucidly pointing at the failings of the right, the reader could be forgiven for thinking that Klein actually gets it and is working against these incentives. Based on reading much of Klein's work and listening to debates he's done, I have low confidence he does. So, overall, the book falls flat. Read Trust Me I'm Lying instead.


These are entirely subjective, and roughly try to capture my personal enjoyment and usefulness, and how likely I'd recommend it to others. Don't read too much into this unless you love my judgement. Rough guidelines:

A: Top quartile. Changed the way I think about something.

B: Worthwhile. I took away something useful.

C: Didn't hit, wouldn't directly recommend. Likely won't revisit.

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