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Social media has ‘peaked’ in politics, NBC’s Chuck Todd says

The moderator of “Meet the Press” thinks Twitter, Facebook and the like can’t surprise us anymore.

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NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd Art Streiber / MSNBC

As we approach the 2018 midterms in the U.S. (and start talking about the 2020 presidential race), there’s no doubt that candidates will continue to use Facebook, Twitter and the like to rally their supporters.

But “social media has peaked as an influential player” in politics, says NBC Political News Director Chuck Todd, the moderator of “Meet the Press.” On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, he argued that everyone on social networking sites “assumes you have an angle,” and will see through a candidate’s tweets and posts as just another tactic, rather than an authentic reflection of his or her character.

“It’s peaked in its ability to be unplanned, in its ability to still surprise, its ability to still be, ‘Oh, that’s clever,’” Todd said. “There is no new way to use social media now for politics; everybody knows all the different ways to do it. Something else is coming.”

“The next thing to me is the personalization of politics,” he added. “Right now, we’ve personalized it to the point of your cable channels, your News Feeds. The next level is going to be, you and I seeing a Trump-for-president ad, but your ad is going to address something that they’ve found you’re fired up about.”

(Disclosure: NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode’s parent company, Vox Media.)

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Todd also talked about why he rejects the idea that tech is responsible for the divisiveness in modern politics. Instead, he sees it as a force that has accelerated trends that have been in motion since Watergate.

“Roger Ailes created this culture,” Todd said. “He comes out of Nixon. And the whole idea of ‘media bias’ began with Watergate ... Ailes has been dining out on this tactic that conservatives should play the victim to media bias.”

“I think the media’s influence is over-hyped,” he added. “If the media is so influential, then how did Donald Trump become president? Not a single editorial board in the country said he should be president. He [Ailes] built an entire business model out of it, with the ‘fair and balanced’ wink and a nod. He took a political tactic for Republicans to win elections and turned it into a media tactic.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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