CNN public editor: We must learn to reflect a polarized nation

CNN, like many other cable news networks, has still not found a way to account for the fact that we’re an incredibly polarized nation. And the big picture of its election coverage was that, as a result, it failed to represent what was happening.

There was huge turnout. The conventional wisdom was that they were turning out for Biden. Which they did. But they were also turning out for Trump. And perhaps we didn’t realize that in part because of the divisive tone that CNN insists on striking.

Trump supporters have been stigmatized to the point that it’s not surprising that they might not be honest with pollsters or journalists. And pollsters and journalists have no way to account for that.

The answer to that is not more balanced coverage, to favor one party or the other. It’s fuller coverage, so that voters are better informed. And more than anything the tone has to be tempered so we’re not living in parallel universes.

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Ariana Pekary is the CJR public editor for CNN. She was an award-winning public radio and MSNBC journalist for two decades. Now she focuses on the systemic flaws of commercial broadcast news. She can be contacted at