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Where Did You Hear That?

What’s your primary source of news?

Once upon a time that was a simple question.

But when I asked that question of prospective jurors during jury selection recently, not one of them wanted to answer it.

In today’s politically polarized America, where someone regularly gets their news can convey much more about their identity than it did a generation ago or even a decade ago. Today, a person’s political identity most likely determines where they get information, which in turn reinforces their political preferences and sometimes even their view of reality.

While none of the prospective jurors in this case wanted to reveal their primary source of news, they were more willing to tell me about the podcasts they listen to.

In this case, the jurors’ taste in podcasts was not the determining factor in whether I sought their removal. It was just one part of the picture.

For example, it was useful to me to learn that one prospective juror was a fan of Joe Rogan, the wildly popular libertarian media personality accused of spreading COVID-19 misinformation. It was equally useful to learn that another juror listens to a podcast from The National Lawyers Guild, a left-leaning group of lawyers and activists that supports anti-racism, workers’ right and an array of related issues.

I don’t make hard and fast rules about what a “good” juror’s background should look like. It really depends on the facts of each case. And a juror’s political orientation is only one thing to consider. But it does provide an important piece of the larger picture.

And although a juror may not want to shout out how much they love Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity when they are being publicly questioned while sitting with a bunch of strangers, they may be willing to tell you about which podcasts they listen to. Which tells me what kind of information they like piped directly into their ears via podcast on a regular basis.