Claire Bond Potter

Feb 25, 2023

Political Junkies

From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy

Basic Books 2020

With fake news on Facebook, trolls on Twitter, and viral outrage everywhere, it's easy to believe that the internet changed politics entirely. In Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy (Basic Books, 2020), historian Claire Bond Potter shows otherwise, revealing the roots of today's dysfunction by situating online politics in a longer history of alternative political media. From independent newsletters in the 1950s to talk radio in the 1970s to cable television in the 1980s, pioneers on the left and right developed alternative media outlets that made politics more popular, and ultimately, more partisan. When campaign operatives took up e-mail, blogging, and social media, they only supercharged these trends. At a time when political engagement has never been greater and trust has never been lower, Political Junkies is essential reading for understanding how we got here.

Claire Bond Potter is a political historian at the New School for Social Research.

Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com.

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Zalman Newfield

Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Jewish Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press).

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