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Paul Ryan Blames Media for Intense Focus on Division: Bipartisanship ‘Doesn’t Sell’ Ratings and Clicks

While Congress has appeared sharply divided in recent months, House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the news media for not talking more about bipartisan achievements, chiding the industry for engaging in a “ratings chase” instead.

“I don’t think it sells for you guys, for the media,” he told Face the Nation‘s John Dickerson in an interview that aired Sunday. “You take a look at the bills we pass out of the House, about a thousand bills. It’s been one of the most productive sessions of Congress in a generation. And of those roughly thousand bills, over 80 percent of them are bipartisan bills. We’ve tackled the opioids, we’ve tackled human trafficking, we’ve rebuilt the military. All of those are bipartisan but they don’t get reported.”

Despite the legislative successes, Ryan contended that those stories simply weren’t appealing enough to the media.

“It doesn’t sell,” he said. “I honestly think, John, it’s the hits and the clicks and it’s the ratings chase that’s on display in America today that says when they’re fighting each other that’s when you cover it.”

While a Quorum analysis supports Ryan’s point that Congress has enacted a significant number of bills with bipartisan cooperation, lawmakers have been divided on a series of issues from immigration to healthcare and, most recently, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Ryan acknowledged that there are problems with identity politics on both the left and the right, and as a solution, the speaker called for leaders “to figure out how do we make inclusive aspirational politics strategically valuable again.”

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