Why the Right Has Such Lousy Information

i-65852b51ef52889c0f5e7cd2ef5908bb-journalist.gifYou have to be a certain age to remember the days when Republicans tended to be better informed and more rational than their opponents. Back before the conservative media complex took on its present shape, conservatives constructed their vision of reality from the same pool of facts generally available to everyone else. They just drew a different set of conclusions about that picture than their rivals on the left.

Going back as far as the sixties, many on the Republican right flank became convinced that they were losing not because their ideas were unpersuasive, but because the media landscape was hopelessly tilted against them. Guys like Nixon aide Roger Ailes envisioned a counter-balance, a conservative journalistic infrastructure that might counter this tilt.

Ailes and other conservative media critics were both right and wrong. While it is true that Journalism is an inherently liberal institution, they were completely wrong about what that means. Their “success” generating a parallel news institution coincided with the emergence of unfiltered, Internet-based media to spawn a storm of unintended consequences for Republicans.

Instead of an alternative news source, conservative media has developed into a dangerous misinformation machine, threatening to cripple conservatism by blinding it. Self-identified conservatives are now some of the most hopelessly and militantly misinformed voters in our system. It may be too late to repair the damage.

Conservative media is nothing new.  There has always been a strong culture of conservative commentary, producing figures like William F. Buckley and George Will. What’s new in this landscape is the attempt to manufacture a completely unnatural creature – conservative journalism.

No one should trust a liberal police force or a conservative university. Some institutions are inherently bent toward a certain philosophical perspective. Conservatism, as a philosophy, is built on a respect for tradition, history, and inherited authority. Conservatism values faith more than doubt. It places a higher premium on belief than on inquiry. Conservatives are suspicious of any force that would upset traditional understandings of the world or challenge the established order, with good reason.

Journalism seeks to establish a set of facts through inquiry, investigation, and relentless doubt. Journalism is perpetually at odds with authority, a nuisance to the privileged. Good journalists are relentless turd disturbers who refuse to let well enough alone. Journalism is based on liberal values.

Journalists, individually, tend to be liberal in their philosophical orientation because the profession largely demands it. There aren’t a lot of liberal FBI agents or conservative reporters. Journalism is as a discipline is the most accurate and reliable method for uncovering news. That does not mean that journalists, or liberals, formulate the best policies. It means that journalists do the best job of uncovering the facts on which intelligent policy decisions are made.

Conservatives like Roger Ailes imagined they could build an inherently conservative journalistic enterprise. They ended up with a product that straddles the line between tabloid and propaganda. Imbue Journalism with conservative values and you will stop getting news. Take away the liberal-oriented critical thinking that goes into the journalistic process and you will get a consistently misleading picture of reality.

This may not matter if you are merely looking to build a base for political activism, but it will exact a merciless price when you need to operate intelligently in the world. If you wish to govern, rhetoric must at some point bend to external realities. Failure to accurately calculate those external realities is like driving blind.

Liberal journalists might vote for Democrats, but theirs’ are the methods that will tell you accurately what’s happening in the world whether you like it or not. They may not draw the right conclusions about policies or philosophy, but they will always do a better job than conservatives at reporting the news. Tune them out and you’ll get unskewed polls, endless fantasy scandals, a deluded base, and a political movement that is never capable of governing.

Conservative’s misguided hostility to the “lamestream media” is the Achilles heel of the modern Republican Party. Obama’s secret weapon in every political standoff with Republicans is that he actually knows what’s happening. Democrats are no smarter than Republicans. They just cheat by turning on their headlights.

Fox News, Breitbart, and the rest of the right wing journalistic engine are political opium. They deliver a rush of unskewed reality that briefly soothes the ache of cognitive dissonance that increasingly ruins conservatives’ moods. Conservatives have consistently lousy information because the rise of Fox News coincided with the Internet age to create a storm of disinformation, too tantalizing to turn down.

There are only two functioning political parties in this country. It will always be possible for Republicans to win some elections no matter how dysfunctional the party becomes. The price of our hostility to information comes not from elections, but from in our steeply declining capacity to govern and the weakening of conservatism as a relevant political philosophy.

It is unclear how many failures it may take to shock the American right out of its stupor, but the toll from this binder is mounting. We could be in for a long, painful ride. Perhaps it’s time to buy more gold?

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Political Theory, Republican Party
65 comments on “Why the Right Has Such Lousy Information
  1. […] the social capital institutions that once blunted the influence of dumb ideas and daffy candidates. A conservative entertainment complex has destroyed any means by which Republican voters might confront dissonant information. Whatever […]

  2. ss396 says:

    If the right has such lousy information and are genetically inferior to their liberal media counterparts, why has almost everything that talk radio and Fox “Noise” has tried to warn people about Obamacare, coming to pass? Speaking of Obamacare, how ’bout that crack bit of “journalism” on MSNBC the other night where MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry went off on a near hysterical rant about equating the use of the term Obamacare with the “N” word?

    Chris, you are totally off the rails with this one.

    • Crogged says:

      SS, you are absolutely right since you and Fox have stuck to the same story since early November. Try changing with the calendar, the web site is working, more people signing up and you need another way to convince people of the horrors of more people obtaining medical help.

      • DanMan says:

        extending deadlines again, about a 15-20% rate of actual payment to enrollee, somewhere between 38,000 to 1.2 million depending on who’s reporting are in the system that needs 7 million according to their numbers, more than 5 million insignificant people have had their policies cancelled so far – or not – or maybe depending on what the king declares the day you try to pin it down

        I’m predicting it gets worse in January. Care to make a counter prediction?

    • Renfield says:

      Nobody said anybody was “genetically inferior.” And hardly any of Fox’ dread and panic came to pass.The very fact that you believe it has and that your first response to analysis is an absurd straw man proves the man’s point.

  3. way2gosassy says:

    Hi guys! Been gone for awhile and except for Capt. Stern looks like the same crew. Just dropped in to say hello and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  4. Turtles Run says:

    The tea party claims that Obamacare should be repealed now because the faulty website proves government cannot run health care.

    Today I tried logging into my vision care plan’s website and it did not recognize me as a member even though I just used my benefits. Should that company shut down because their website did not function properly?

    • GG says:

      LOL. You don’t wartin’ anyone. No one takes you seriously. You are a rightwing shill, nothing more. You don’t have an original thought in your head merely parroting Fox, etc. Jesus, you used to link to WorldNutDaily. No one takes that seriously.

      • DanMan says:

        You sure have a problem with Fox don’t you? I don’t since I cancelled my satellite TV after the Super Bowl last year. I’m up about $1,200 so far.

  5. DanMan says:

    well looky here! it’s despo and eljefebob’s old crowd spinning the same lies in the goper’s blog

    Like I said on the front page, who needs information if it can’t be manipulated right Chris? Your democrat party hides, distorts and down right lies about most aspects of every issue. And to make sure the lies stick, any questioning of them is racism, homophobia and all the other worn out invectives that are blithely tossed around by your friends in the media.

    “Journalism seeks to establish a set of facts through inquiry, investigation, and relentless doubt. Journalism is perpetually at odds with authority, a nuisance to the privileged. Good journalists are relentless turd disturbers who refuse to let well enough alone. Journalism is based on liberal values.”

    That right there is pure BS in today’s world of journolisters and you know it. Your left ward journalists that dominate the media seek to establish a narrative based on the democrat party’s insistence.

    Your paid media hacks are the most servile bunch of cheerleaders we have had to withstand in my life time. They would do anything to stay close to this administration and have prostituted themselves in their efforts to remain close. You nailed tha lst line though. Journalism today is based on based on liberal values. That is as has always been “The ends justify the means”. The turd disturbers is pretty spot on too I’m guessing, you guys have the penchant for scat.

    • GG says:

      “Your democrat party hides, distorts and down right lies about most aspects of every issue.”

      Kind of like Fox Noise?

      P.S. You sound paranoid and quite possibly nuts.

      • DanMan says:

        meh, I think the same about you…”My father is the same. In fact, as a retired journalist (back when journalism was still good) he literally roars with laughter when he listens to Faux.”

        So you agree journalism isn’t what it used to be. How exactly does one laugh literally? Ask your ex-journalist father for us, he would know the rules.

        If you like your lies, you can keep your lies. Period.

      • GG says:

        I never said journalism is great now but Fox isn’t even journalism. It’s entertainment hence he finds it hysterically funny that people take it as “serious” as I do.

        Are you deliberately obtuse? Oh, wait……

    • Turtles Run says:

      Hey Dan! Did you get tired of playing with yourself….I mean by yourself over there at Sparkle’s.

    • Texan5142 says:

      Dude, DanMan, please seek help.

  6. lomamonster says:

    About this ‘maybe buy more gold’ thing – – A better approach to the future would be to establish a bitcoin position because new economies are on the horizon and bitcoin seems to be the most remarkable horse in the race at present. Gold will be worthless in comparison if the new currency takes off.

  7. Turtles Run says:

    Lets see, in the past week the conservative pundits have pushed these…..uh….reasonable news stories

    – A tea party activist suggested the United States may be conquered by foreign armies because abortion and Islam were permitted.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/02/tea-party-activist-says-u-s-may-be-conquered-for-allowing-atheists-wiccans-and-abortion/

    – Obama Administration slaps Roman Catholics in face for moving Vatican Embassy

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/26/obamas-call-close-holy-see-embassy-slap-face-catho/

    – A Florida Tea Party leader is decrying the takeover of the local Republican Party in Broward County by gay “thugs.”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/republican-party-florida-gay-thugs-tea-party-leader-article-1.1531963#ixzz2mLwzRyhH

    Finally, no wingnut site would be complete without a story on the take over of our nation by Sharia Law.

    – Fox News anchor Heather Nauert announced on Monday that a YMCA swim class that respected the religious traditions of Muslim girls was proof that “Sharia law is now changing everything.”

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/02/fox-news-ymca-swim-class-for-muslim-girls-proves-sharia-law-is-changing-everything/

    Good job teabaggers with keeping journalistic integrity alive.

    snark off

  8. GG says:

    This is what I currently see is wrong with the right. Allowing people this to speak into a microphone. They are insane and the mainstream does not identify with them. This is why the TP is failing.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/02/tea-party-activist-says-u-s-may-be-conquered-for-allowing-atheists-wiccans-and-abortion/

  9. Anse says:

    I appreciate this column, especially the part in which you point out that it’s not a matter of Democrats being more intelligent than Republicans. It’s the fact that Democratic leaders, while they certainly spin things to suit them as all politicians do, they don’t tend to invent a whole reality out of the ether the way the right wing media does. I listen to some of my conservative relatives talk and it’s like we’re on totally different planets. And of course they would never agree with this statement and would insist the opposite is true.

    The shock on Republican faces as the election results rolled out back in 2012 are a perfect reflection of this. They simply had no idea that Romney was going to lose. It was a total surprise, even though a ton of pollsters had been saying for months that Obama had the edge. And they’re still in denial about why it turned out that way.

  10. “Journalism seeks to establish a set of facts through inquiry, investigation, and relentless doubt.”

    David Gregory, “relentless turd disturber”? LOL. Now, that’s funny. We have met the press, and they have clearly made the transition from fourth estate to fifth column.

    “Relentless doubt” is not exactly what I would call the fawning derriere kissing lavished upon the likes of David Plouffe (a.k.a. “The Mouth of Sauron”) and Ezekiel Emanuel on the Sunday morning ‘news’ shows, as they and other Obama minions gushed about the ‘fixed’ healthcare.gov website. No, you’d have to go to a “tabloid” like the WSJ for that: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304854804579232213683736826

    Face it, Chris: Journalism, as a discipline fitting your description, is largely dead in this country, if in truth it ever really existed. The *only* reason that we now know better is because of alternative media. The monopoly of the networks and large news publishers has finally been broken, and people have come to realize that much of what they are fed as ‘news’ from the lamestream media isn’t worth consuming, much less believing.

    • Turtles Run says:

      In other words. Its not news unless they are feeding your alternate reality.

      Kinda explains why the Benghazi, IRS, birth certificate, and other “scandals” seem to take a life of their own. Just because there is no proof of wrong-doing that does not mean the story is just another wild-ass conspiracy, it just means the lame-stream media is covering up for the President.

      Is that about it?

      • DanMan says:

        pretty much, even by their own admission. Here’s a hilarious article out of Politico explaining why the Obamacare story was bungled. What’s funny is it’s omission of the most obvious reason the facts weren’t reported, which is slavish bias. But hey, at least they admit it wasn’t well covered despite hundreds of fluffy words written to support it.

        http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/12/dropped-coverage-media-obamacare-100546.html

        Yeah, we have an alternate reality alright turtle. It’s not your world of lies.

      • Turtles Run says:

        DanDude: Reread the article. It claims that the media focused on the talking points, right and left, the policy wonks, and politicians. In other words the things that they felt got them more readers.

        The news business is just that…..BUSINESS. Like any other business they are focused on the bottom line. Don’t confuse news reporting for journalism because they are two different things.

    • Anse says:

      If there is anything that so wonderfully exemplified the rotten propaganda that defines the conservative media, it was the last presidential election. Pollsters had been saying for months that Obama had the edge. Talking heads on Fox insisted they were all liberals and they were all biased. But poll after poll after poll said the same thing. Fox pundits kept up the drumbeat of optimism. They aren’t talking to conservatives, they insisted. They are slanting the polls. And then election night came, and like children watching their pet hamster die, Republican voters exhibited the shock, the total astonishment, at the result that everybody who wasn’t on Fox said was going to happen. It wasn’t a surprise to anybody except conservative voters. And why? Because they were lied to. And to this day, this has caused no self-reflection, has inspired no inner dialogue.

      • DanMan says:

        yeah, we didn’t count on every swing state being taken by Obama, and of course the 140% turn outs in Ohio cities and the Florida fiasco weren’t handled well by the side that doesn’t cheat elections. Maybe we should up our game and cheat and lie like democrats.

    • Crogged says:

      Wall Street Journal announces progress in battle against more American’s obtaining medical insurance.

    • JohnGalt says:

      Is there any chance a commentary written in the manner Tracy’s WSJ link is written is published in that paper 10 years ago? The op-ed pages of the WSJ have long been conservative and often used to feature biting wit and clever satire. Fact-free righteous indignation is a relatively new trend. I wonder if it has anything to do with who owns it.

    • Crogged says:

      When you decry inaccuracy in the media with an op/ed piece, do you care?

    • Crogged says:

      The paper itself is still wonderful and has some great reporting. In some ways I agree with the post which started this thread, I never watch Sunday ‘news’ programs or any cable news because some subjects and/or thoughts actually deserve an entire sentence or five.

  11. Old Dispatcher says:

    When Rush Limbaugh was getting started the one thing he warned people about was reading The New York Times. He said it was the worst sort of news source and that if you needed information he was the most trusted source alive. This worked for him from a ratings standpoint and it was not long before all right wing talkers started braying the same thing.

    There’s real money in telling people what they want to hear, and as long as the ratings are up and the cash is flowing in there is no reason to think the entertainment form known as Conservative News is going anywhere but up. Conservatives really do feel they are entitled to their own set of facts, and as long as those facts continue to deliver solid Democratic vote getters like Romney then I really have no problem with the entire fake news industry.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Just a flat out lie OD. What he did do was read a story from the NYT’s and compare it to the FULL story of what is going on. He demonstrated quite well how the elite MSM stroked/molded stories to put the GOP in the worse possible light and the dem’s in the best light.

      Question to you: Has the NYT’s ever ran a story with a headline with the word Far-Left?

      • Crogged says:

        So why not expect to receive ‘bias’ from all sources of information? The prior posting regarding evaluating scientific claims is a little narrow casted-some of those principles apply to evaluating everything you hear or read.

        Differences and chance cause variation
        Bias is rife
        Correlation does not imply causation
        Feelings influence risk perception
        .

        Multiple, independent sources of evidence and replication are much more convincing.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Speaking of liars. How are you Buzzy? Where is the old hoodie?

      • Proud_Illusion says:

        As a matter of fact they have! Try the Google next time. It is a wonderful thing.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/13/us/politics/13liberal.html?pagewanted=all

      • Old Dispatcher says:

        I guess I have been listing to Rush far longer than you have. He not only has referred to the NYT as a ‘fake web site’ but also to any other site that counters what he says. Rush also once, and maybe still does, quote World Net Daily as a trusted news source. His routine was to quote a news source and then praise it while warning everyone to stay away from the NYT.

        I don’t keep up with the headline from the NYT, but if the Far-Right makes news should it not be named as such? After all, who is claiming the world is 6,000 years old and that man and dinos walked the Earth at the same time? It”s not the folks Rush has warned you to stay away from, it is the Far-Right. If the Far-Right is ashamed of their views then why do they take credit for them?

    • rightonrush says:

      Speaking of the idiot Limbaugh, he’s calling Pope Francis a Marxist.
      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/02/rush-limbaugh-vs-the-pope/?hpt=hp_t1

    • DanMan says:

      If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period.

      It was a crazy video.

      Obama didn’t have anything to do with the IRS targeting conservative groups. That’s why even after sworn testimony revealed the directions and oversight came from DC no targeted person or group has been contacted during the justice department’s exhaustive investigation.

      Obama had nothing to do with Fast & Furious and didn’t even know about it. That’s why he locked down the investigation under executive order. To protect the innocent, right?

      The left has declared war on truth. Truth will win.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Yes Danny Boy, truth will win. And that is why Republicans have not won the last two Presidential elections and 5 out of the last 6.

        Why I believe Karl Rove is STILL ranting to this day on Fox that Romney has a chance to win…

      • DanMan says:

        Well bubbababy they sure didn’t win I’ll give you that. How’s are the lies working out for you? Is this how you want the country to run? How do you like your betters excluding themselves from the law you so covet? That there is funny stuff that you libs cling so desperately to a liar who is only bankrupting your future. And doing it with your sparrow like devotion on full display.

        And some of us have as much regard for Karl Rove as you do, so there’s that. As far as I’m concerned Mr. Rove is closer to you than he is to me what with his efforts to throw open the borders.

  12. Crogged says:

    For those convinced about their sources…..how many of you have heard anything about California and doom lately? Moving on is omitting is propagandizing…….and avoiding all of these sins of the media is completely within the power of every citizen of this nation.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-state-budget-20131121,0,4883962.story#ixzz2lJlQA9pr

    • Old Dispatcher says:

      If you think CA has underfunded pension plans you should check out how deep in the hole Texas is on this item. This takes some doing since there is no one source that gives a total figure, but as you keep adding up one fund after another it starts to look pretty bad. The folks here in Texas in charge of this are doing the best they can with what they have to work with, though, and the stock market gains will help out as much here as they are in CA.

      Republicans don’t seem to notice the economy is getting better and the stock market is rising as fast as it is. I wonder why the Conservative news outlets don’t do more reporting on this?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        OldDispatcher, there is a huge difference between the TRF and California, but you knew that correct?

      • Old Dispatcher says:

        I do know that both are underfunded and yet no one in Texas seems to be concerned about it except those in charge of it. Conservatives tend to turn away from news they cannot deal with and let others try to correct their errors. Dealing with facts is just to hard for some folks, hence the rise of the Conservative fake news industry which tells Conservatives they are right about everything.

      • Old Dispatcher says:

        A good case in point would be your comment about the difference between Texas and CA. Yes, there is a difference, but not in the way I was talking about. If you think that Texas pension funds being underfunded is nothing to be worried about then you must be a Conservative since the facts of the matter defy the Conservative mantra that everything in Texas is perfect.

        But good people are working on the problem, so don’t worry about it. Democrats will soon take over the state and repair the damage done by ten years of Republican mismanagement.

      • DanMan says:

        City of Houston pension fiasco started under Lee. P. Brown, continued under Bill White and Annise Parker and underfunded by all three. No other party this pension mess throughout the US more than the democrats. Ms. Parker admitted to “approximately $10 billion” in unfunded liabilities on Ed Hendee’s show a couple of days before the election, something the Chronicle refuses to cover.

  13. kabuzz61 says:

    No one should trust a liberal police force or a conservative university. Some institutions are inherently bent toward a certain philosophical perspective. Conservatism, as a philosophy, is built on a respect for tradition, history, and inherited authority. Conservatism values faith more than doubt. It places a higher premium on belief than on inquiry. Conservatives are suspicious of any force that would upset traditional understandings of the world or challenge the established order, with good reason

    I tried to stop reading your tripe after this gerrymandered paragraph but kept on like watching a train wreck. Then you had to say liberal journalists will only tell you the truth about what is happening in the world. At first I laughed but then became sad that someone supposedly as intelligent as you would say such a thing.

    When have you ever heard a MSM reporter identify a democrat as far left, left wing, etc? Never. Those labels do not apply to democrats. Well, there goes the ‘truth’ you so much want to believe in.

    And again, I know you lefties hate Fox News but why, oh why is it so successful? Why is it killing the competition?

    The real truth is no one wants to hear the far left because they simply are what they accuse everyone else of being.

  14. Sharon Kass says:

    Today’s liberalism is another kind of orthodoxy. Journalists talk about their ethics but they generate the propaganda their bosses demand. (Omission is part of propagandizing.)

    • Anse says:

      Why is Fox News successful? Why in the heck does Lady Gaga sell a million records? It’s not a good way to judge quality.

      • porter50 says:

        Apples and oranges.

      • DanMan says:

        why is Fox successful? because they don’t parrot Obama’s narrative like the rest. Obama is a proven liar.
        why is Lady GaGa successful? because people are attracted to shiny things and she knows it

        Yeah, I see a correlation alright.

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