Right-Wing Media Is 100% Of The Problem

Unfortunately for us, they are very good at what they do.

The grim festival of blame-laying among progressives/the left/Democrats: Do you wish it would stop already, for the love of all that is left to cling to? OK good. You can just 100% blame right-wing media.

“Too simple!” many will protest. “The Russians, and Comey, and Hillary was a bad candidate and/or ran a bad campaign, and she won the popular vote so doesn’t count, and even then, Bernie surely would have won, plus a backlash against love winning, too many of us are sexist and stupid, and we forgot to sew the noble white laborer into our quilt of justice.”

Sure, fine. There’s some truth in there. But all that is secondary, because when you boil it all right down to the non-stick coating and char that off too, right-wing media did it.

By “it,” I mean degraded our political ecosystem to such an extent that Donald J. Trump was elected president. Right-wing media did more than any other entity to make this possible.

By “right-wing media,” I mean pretty much all conservative media, from the Alex Joneses and the Breitbarts to the David Brookses and the Wall Street Journals. Because the things conservatives want, like lower taxes on wealth, less environmental protection, less help to the poor, etc., are not popular ideas, or good ideas, those espousing them must bullshit. There is no way to make the conservative policy agenda sound nice without bullshitting. We will help more people by helping fewer of them, and we will collect more taxes when we cut them. Insinuation and hyperbole and question begging and no details, retreating into vague appeals to our freedoms. Bullshit, basically.

Who was it that relentlessly and over multiple decades portrayed Hillary Clinton as a scheming criminal when her actual record was that of a typical center-left politician, and nearly always cleaner than her detractors’? Who worked the bellows of the Tea Party, introduced us to birthers, obsessed over death panels and gun grabbing and martial law, none of which ever materialized nor were ever likely to? Who fanned fear of immigrants and Muslims and “urban youths” and socialism and atheism and other things that are not particularly dangerous, while denying that we are globally killing ourselves with fossil fuel emissions? Who took trigger warnings and safe spaces and transformed them from little things that barely even existed at liberal colleges into outrageous threats to the Republic? Right-wing media did all that!

Who saw that there was an enormous amount of money to be made in telling a common sort of person who is frightened of change, and often a bit mean (or as they would have it, “tough”), that they are right to be hateful and fearful? Why, that was the right-wing media!

Who made it so that Republican members of Congress are more afraid of primary challenges from their right than anything else? (Gerrymandering and) the right-wing media, of course!

This has been going on for decades. In 1987, when the FCC scrapped the “Fairness Doctrine” requiring tv and radio broadcasters to balance their political programming, there was no consumer internet. There were a handful of tv stations. There was licensed radio, the national papers and magazines and maybe a few local papers. There were books. That was it.

Certainly, some of these carried right-wing messages. Right-wing media is only a bit younger than media itself. But it was filtered, through far more editorial scrutiny and far fewer outlets than today. There was no national platform, known to all, readily available 24 hours a day basically for free, perpetually refreshed with new content, that was fully committed to advancing an extreme, ideologically right-wing agenda in 1987. Today we have constellations of them.

Used to be you had to sign up for Ron Paul’s newsletter, probably at the gun show, and wait for it to come in the mail to read the latest about the coming race war. It took some non-negligible effort to absorb weird, wrong, dangerous ideas. Now you can enter a world of impending conflict and bloody struggle against your enemies anywhere and always. It can fully replace the reality you see with your own eyes. And it badly wants to, because then it can sell more things to you.

Character assassination will always be a feature of politics. There will always be people who lie and deceive for political ends, and, to a greater or lesser extent, succeed at it. There will always be conspiracy theories, and sometimes actual conspiracies, and hatred, and fear, and ignorance, and vengefulness, and all the other rots. The extent to which these rots thrive depends on the environment. There is none more hospitable to them than right-wing media, which is now everywhere and multiplying.

Maybe this will help? At any rate, best of luck to us!

[ NYT ]


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