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NPR's Mara Liasson talks politics, polarization, and media at UK


A celebrated NPR correspondent was in Lexington Thursday night. Political reporter and analyst Mara Liasson gave a lecture covering the big issues facing voters in the midterm elections, including inflation, immigration, and abortion.

In conversation ahead of her Clements Lecture hosted by University of Kentucky Libraries, Mara Liasson said she’s the exception that proves the rule when it comes to media polarization—she contributes to both NPR and Fox News.

“I say the same things whether I’m on Fox or NPR. I’ve appeared as a panelist on Fox since 1998 and I’ve been a reporter at NPR since 1985 . . . I mean look, most people look to the media now for affirmation, not information. People live in these media bubbles where they only listen to media that agrees with them, which I think is bad.”

Liasson has political reforms in mind that could possibly decrease polarization.

“For instance: ranked choice voting, which is an instant runoff system. That means you don’t send anyone to Congress who didn’t get more than 50% of the vote. That’s a good thing. Top-two primaries–that means that you no longer have partisan primaries. Everybody participates in one primary. The result of that has been that the candidates that end up being elected are slightly more moderate, whether they’re Republican or Democratic.”

Those are two reforms among many that Liasson suggested. She encouraged UK students to stay informed and vote in every election.

“. . . participating in the political process. Participating in a civil dialogue where you see the people who disagree with you as your opponents, but not your enemies.”

Liasson spoke at the annual Earle C. Clements Lecture-Symposium, which is designed to share the legacy of the former governor and support public service in Kentucky.