The media has an incredible power to assist people in sliding along to an extreme. It doesn’t come from its bias, either. It’s just the nature of news media that includes judgments with its reports. (The British don’t have this problem since their news doesn’t decide for you. They just report.) To judge a newly reported item, it must be put into perspective and judged according to what’s around it. And to judge something by its context, you must pretend the context is a constant and the item of topic is a variable. If news keeps coming about an unjust war, for example, the news must eventually “give up” and just report what’s new. If it passes judgment on these new items, it has given a slight nod of acceptance to the previous circumstances that got it there. It’s like being drawn onto someone’s turf in an argument.
This one probably needs a few examples. If the news talks about Saddam’s capture, no big deal. If the news attempts to pass judgment on it or query experts for whether he should be executed or detained, it’s acknowledged that everything leading up to his capture was just. We’re placated seeing these anchors and experts discuss the topic at hand as if everything that came before was nothing to get excited about. It’d get pretty old if every expert brought on the news answered, “We shouldn’t even be here in the first place. This President shouldn’t even be in office!” after every question about American troops being “ambushed” or Guantanamo Bay. They really should, though. We’ve slid pretty damn far.