30 January 2015
An Incestuous Bubble of Babble
The 47% Majority
“Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?”
-Megan Kelly, FOX news anchor’s on-air question to Karl Rove, Republican strategist, on election night 2012. Rove was insisting that Romney would win the election. (Rove didn’t care for the question.)
The technology that moves data across the country at near light speed facilitates such an orgy of available information that consumers are overwhelmed by venues of content. Unlike the plain vanilla media landscape of the 1960s, when news was read by distinguished, Midwestern, middle-aged white males, cloned from Edward R. Morrow, today we can choose to receive our news content from a veritable rainbow of humanity. If their presentation offends our sensibilities we can easily switch to one who will tailor the information in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves.
The right still complains incessantly about “liberal media bias” even though they have FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, the Drudge report and a plethora of far right rabble-rousers on talk radio and television. These conservative “news” organizations (which conservatives claim are balanced) are “necessary to set the record straight” and “disseminate facts the liberal media suppress.” As conservatives gained control of more news outlets they became bolder, shriller, and wandered farther from the truth in their quest to reshape the world into what they think it should be.
The mainstream GOP tacitly condones the hate-mongering and disinformation disseminated by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, FOX news, the NRA, et al. Occasionally, they will attempt to distance themselves from a particularly offensive remark but overall they are pleased as punch to let these “unauthorized” provocateurs serve up raw meat to the homophobic, zenophobic, racist, sexist, climate-change-denying elements of their party which they are happy to welcome under their tent. The Republican Party owns these attack dogs, though they have long refused to take responsibility for them. It seems a delicious irony, then, that their refusal to muzzle their dogs has allowed those dogs to turn on their masters.
The constant drumbeat of protest from the right over supposed liberal media bias has taken a toll on mainstream media. Mainstream news outlets, fearful of being labeled “liberal” bend over backwards to be balanced, to the point where they are afraid to call a spade a spade. Indeed, as media outlets have become concentrated in fewer hands, and profitability of news organizations becomes increasingly elusive, what possible motivation could there be for a liberal bias at the expense of profit? If anything, news media are indulging a conservative bias, the motivation for which would be preservation of the bottom line.
The take-over of a large chunk of news outlets by right wing provocateurs has not “balanced” the information wars so much as it has facilitated the rise of an alternate reality populated by paranoid unicorns, revisionist historians and fiscal fairies. The Know Nothings embrace this 1950s never land, where there are two chickens in every pot, the only people of color are domestics, and wives and mistresses are destined never to meet. All the while they dutifully consume large quantities of Kool-aid brewed up by disconnected nabobs who take their orders directly from God. Strangely, God seems to have trouble getting his facts straight.
For all their whining about the liberal media’s suppression of “the truth,” when conservatives research, analyze and disseminate their own, “unadulterated” version, it is often inaccurate. I’m not talking about spin here. It matters little if conservatives choose to live in an incestuous bubble of babble. It matters little that they believe Obama is a Muslim, that John McCain works for Al Qaeda and that death panels will decide who receives medical care at the end. (We’ve had death panels for years; we call them insurance companies.)
Problems arise, though, when conservatives venture outside the bubble. Throughout the government shutdown in October of 2013, the Know Nothing Party justified their actions by saying they were representing the will of “the American People.” The true representatives of “the American people” were the ones who passed the Affordable Care Act. These true representatives of the American people got the job by getting elected. That’s how it works outside the bubble.
It seems that conservatives would be better served if they placed their faith in, and based their campaign strategy on, information disseminated by the “liberal” mainstream media. On election night, 2012, well-heeled Republican donors descended on New York City and DC, expecting to party the night away celebrating a Romney victory—of which they had been assured. Really. How in the world did these people ever amass enough wealth to buy so many politicians? The mainstream, sorry, liberal news outlets, were all predicting an Obama victory. Romney’s pollsters declared they were shocked, shocked, mind you, blindsided; no idea what happened.
Is there no one in the GOP political machine who understands the meaning of the word “fact?” Is it possible that what conservatives call “liberal media bias” is what the rest of humanity refers to as “the truth?” Conservative journalist Christopher Ruddy, in a post mortem of the 2012 election, blamed the candidate himself, the liberal media, other Republicans, the weather, et al., for Romney’s defeat. While the extreme right rioted over Romney’s lack of true conservative credentials, most of the rest of the country (47% and then some) seized on the faux conservative credentials he did have—and rejected them.