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‘Roseanne’ TV reboot reveals latest divides in Red/Blue America

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The huge success of the Roseanne reboot has captured a lot of attention in political circles in the past few weeks, particularly its enormous viewership in “Red America.” But how deep are the partisan divides in America’s entertainment TV viewing? That depends on how you look at the question.

Democrats are more likely to watch certain shows than Republicans and vice versa, but generally speaking, the most popular entertainment shows look remarkably similar, according to data from Simmons Research gathered in 2017.

Let’s start with the Democrats. When you look at the Simmons data, which is gathered through consumer surveys, some clear patterns emerge in the shows that “index” the highest for Democrats. Those are the shows Democrats are more likely than others to watch.

First, shows featuring African-American casts and delving into African-American issues stand out. Empire and Black-ish are two of the best-known examples of this point in the data, but there are also several shows from BET, Black Entertainment Television, that show up on the Democrat “over-index” list.

Another item on the Democrat’s list that might fall under this rubric: Saturday Night NBA Basketball. The NBA has long tended to have a larger share of African-American fans than other major sports.

What’s behind those viewership numbers? Politically, African-Americans overwhelmingly identify with the Democratic Party.

The Democratic list also features quite a few topical comedy shows. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Veep, both known for sharp political satire, index at sky-high rates for Democrats, while barely moving the needle for Republicans. And both shows air on HBO, which the data show tends to over-index for Democrats overall.

A different set of patterns is visible on the shows that Republicans are more likely than others to watch.

The power of the show Last Man Standing in the Republican data is remarkable – even though the show is no longer producing episodes. Last Man Standing was among the highest indexing Republican shows for the first-run episodes that aired on ABC until last spring, and for the reruns that aired on the Hallmark Channel.

In a sense, Last Man Standing was Roseanne before the latter show was rebooted a few weeks ago. It revolved around a male sporting goods store worker with strong conservative values challenging and being challenged by his family and the world around him. Since the big success of Roseanne, there is now discussion of bringing Last Man Standing back.

The Antiques Roadshow is indicative of another pattern in the Republican viewing data, a love of programs showing the value of older, vintage items. Also on the over-indexing list for Republicans: American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and This Old House.

And two sports broadcasts index highly for Republicans, NASCAR’s Xfinity Series on Fox Sports 1 and regular season college football on ESPN. The viewership of those broadcasts also under-indexes for Democrats.

There are some significant and deep splits on those lists and they largely follow what we know of the red-blue divide. The humor of Last Week Tonight is aimed at a different audience than the humor of Last Man Standing.

But when you simply look at the top entertainment shows among Democrats and Republicans – the programs that members of each party say they watch most frequently – the lists actually look quite similar.

Go back and forth between those two lists and you’ll see that seven of the top 10 shows are the same for Democrats and Republicans.

The orders may be different, but it turns out that The Big Bang Theory, Fix Upper and America’s Got Talent are purple in their overall partisan viewership. And people in both parties seem to like watching the police procedural that is NCIS and the real estate voyeurism of House Hunters.

To be clear, none of this papers over the differences in the U.S. electorate. The nation’s political ills can’t be solved by all of us plopping down together on the couch to binge watch the Property Brothers. The trend toward tribalism in American politics is real and deep and visible in a lot of ways as we have noted often in the Data Download.

Furthermore, this is just looking at cable and network television viewing habits. The world of streaming services has led to greater freedom for consumers, but at the same time, it has created further ways for audiences to segment themselves into niches and micro-niches.

But the picture is more complicated than that. The data here show that you can still find a few broad commonalities in the American experience – even in the age of President Trump and rebooted Roseanne.

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Biden will allow Jan. 6 investigators access to Trump records, White House says

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President Joe Biden will not shield Donald Trump’s records from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by invoking executive privilege, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Asked about Trump’s assertion that he would fight subpoenas from the Jan. 6 Select Committee by invoking the presidential power, Psaki said that decision ultimately lies with Biden.

“The president has already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege” in this case, Psaki said.

“We take this matter incredibly seriously,” she added.

While sitting presidents have traditionally used the power to shield certain information and records from the public at the request of their predecessors, Psaki said what happened during the Capitol riot deserves transparency.

“We have been working closely with the congressional committee and others as they get to the bottom of what happened on Jan. 6th, an incredibly dark day in our democracy,” Psaki said at the daily briefing.

Her comments came one day after the committee subpoenaed and set a date for sworn depositions for several top Trump allies — former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former social media director Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to Trump’s defense secretary.

Trump said in a statement Thursday that, “We will fight the subpoenas on executive privilege and other grounds, for the good of our country.” He also referred to the fact-finding panel as the “‘Unselect Committee’ of highly partisan politicians.”

Biden’s stance should make the panel’s path easier, but Trump could still file a legal challenge the committee’s push to get his records from the National Archives.

The panel’s document request to the National Archives is 10 pages long and seeks “documents and communications within the White House on January 6, 2021” related to Trump’s advisers and family members. It also asks for his specific movements on that day and communications, if any, from the White House Situation Room.

To date, over 600 people have been charged criminally for the Jan. 6 riot.

The Associated Press contributed.

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State pension chaos as people left stranded on NO income

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STATE pensions have been thrown into chaos by a backlog at the Department for Work and Pensions .

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Migrants have been cleared from under Del Rio bridge, Mayorkas says

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WASHINGTON — The thousands of mostly Haitian migrants who had been encamped underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, have been removed and either deported to Haiti or placed in immigration proceedings, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday.

“Today, we have no migrants remaining in the camp under the International Bridge,” he said. “Migrants continue to be expelled and under the CDC’s Title 42 authority. Title 42 is a public health authority and not an immigration policy, and it is important to note that Title 42 is applicable, and has been applicable, to all irregular migration.”

Workers clear debris from the site of a makeshift border migrant camp along the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2021.Adrees Latif / Reuters

Of the approximately 15,000 migrants who arrived at the border in recent days, Mayorkas said, 2,000 were returned to Haiti on 17 flights under the policy called Title 42 which was invoked at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that allows the administration to swiftly expel migrants. An additional 12,400 will remain in the country and have their asylum cases heard by a judge because of exemptions in that policy, which include those who have an “acute vulnerability,” like needing urgent medical care, or because of “operational capacity,” Mayorkas said.

“That means they go before an immigration judge in immigration court,” he said. “If they make a claim that they have a basis under law to remain in the United States, then the judge will hear and adjudicate that claim. If the judge determines that the claim is not valid, the individual will be removed.”

The Biden administration has been criticized for sending Haitian migrants, many who have been in Central American and South American countries for several years, back to Haiti when that country is dealing with a humanitarian crisis following a recent earthquake and a hurricane. The official response led the U.S. special envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, to resign Thursday over what he called the administration’s “inhumane” treatment of Haitian migrants.

Migrants walk through a makeshift border camp along the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, early on Sept. 24, 2021.Adrees Latif / Reuters

Mayorkas said nearly 30,000 migrants have been encountered by immigration officials since Sept. 9, with the highest number reaching approximately 15,000 at one point. He said 8,000 of those migrants returned to Mexico on their own.

Of the more than 12,000 not expelled to Haiti and placed into immigration proceedings, he said some of them are in detention while others are placed in “alternatives to detention.”

“We remain in touch with them. We monitor them, to ensure their appearance in court at the designated time of appearance,” Mayorkas said.

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