Why this week’s media meltdown was years in the making — and what comes next

BuzzFeed News, the colossus of yesteryear’s viral reporting and the entity that published the infamous Steele Dossier about Donald Trump, announced that it was shutting down for good.

On Monday, Fox News fired Tucker Carlson, their top-rated host. Within an hour, Don Lemon announced he was parting ways with CNN, where he had worked for 17 years.

On Thursday, Vice News, another struggling pioneer of 21st century digital news, became the latest media company to lay off some of its best known reporters.

These are all isolated events with circumstances specific to each newsroom. But in an excellent new book called “Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral,” Ben Smith argues that we are indeed at the end of an era in media, but that the next one might be something to look forward to.

That’s a forceful prediction coming from Ben, who was a longtime reporter at POLITICO, the top editor at BuzzFeed News, a New York Times media columnist and now is the editor-in-chief of Semafor. He’s also this week’s Playbook Deep Dive guest.

Ben’s book and this interview with Deep Dive host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza do their best to answer the questions we all have about why our political culture is so fragmented, and whether there is any hope that we can return to a place where Americans agree on simple things — like facts.