How’re the Split Screens?

Terry H. Schwadron

Jan. 22, 2021

At the height of the Inauguration of Joe Biden and talk of “unity,” the top half of the One America News Network was devoted to Donald Trump’s parting remarks, followed the next morning by a tribute to the Trump legacy.

Newsmax highlighted rising coronavirus numbers already ruining Joe Biden’s plans for a coordinated attack on the pandemic; Breitbart used its top headlines to feature Republican voices dismissing Biden’s comprehensive immigration proposal as amnesty run wild before turning to downtown Seattle window-breaking and anti-immigration vandalism that Breitbart labeled as work of Antifa, loosely leftist demonstrators. There were three arrests.

Later, Fox News commentators Tucker Carlson offered broadsides against other television outlets swooning or getting “weak-kneed” over Biden in political support and renewing the failures to fully investigate Hunter Biden for profiting or worse from his dad’s name. Sean Hannity and Republican congressional guests were still, sarcastically fighting election fraud and the shutdown of dissent, and Rush Limbaugh, broadcasting from Florida, said the inauguration did not answer election fraud. A general theme: Trying Trump on impeachment charges will not represent or further “unity.”

Social media postings reflected confusion even among groups like the Proud Boys, Qanon and other rightist groups, many of whose members saw themselves now as having been duped by Trump or were trying to find a silver lining in postponed protests.

None of this was a “hoax” report of course; they all happened. And, as opinion, it was all fair game, I guess. But it was blind to the news events under way. It was coverage of events from a political point of view that felt more a reflection of the bruised and dismissed than “news.”

More to the point, it was jarring to see and hear this as news coverage on a day when the developments were about a national change of view, of a different majority rule, of orations and celebrations of moving away from misleading propaganda and toward acknowledging some common truths, including election results, to form a basis for political debate on policies rather than personalities.

The “unity” Biden talked of was for common acknowledgment of reality and on national purpose — not uniformity on his proposals for policies.

The split screens showed this cultural divide will not be solved at the ballot box.