We are all aware of Fox News, the right wing pundits like Limbaugh and Coulter and the countless right wing talking heads. Online we have an endless stream of garbage from the right like Breitbart, and the drudge report pushing their agenda and often flat out fake news. Anyone that knows me knows I loathe them all and have, many times, blamed them for the dumbing down of this nation. But earlier today I was watching the mainstream media. I know! Bad Kevin! But alas it was MSNBC, and on the show one of the panelists was a a self described liberal media persona. He put forth the notion that the liberal media was, in part at least, responsible for the existence of the right wing media empires rise.
Up until now I have been blaming the loss of the fairness doctrine, which I have written about on this blog more than once in the “Fairness Doctrine” and “The Fairness Doctrine (Part Deux),” for the rise of the right. However this new thought was, at the very least, interesting. The panelist claimed that the liberal media basically owned the airways before the dawn of Fox news in 1996. The panelist suggested that this created a vacuum that was then filled by the right wing fake news agenda.
I have friends that, over those years, I recall them spouting endlessly about the left wing media. Many had gotten to a point where they refused to watch. I admit, back then I thought they were being idiots but who was I to argue. Truth be told much of the media, especially Hollywood, is loaded with artists, and those artists be they actors or musicians or whatever their proclivity tend to be liberal. I went to school for art. It is hard to locate a conservative in the room. So yes I guess in hindsight it might seem movies and media and music have a liberal left wing bent as likely they do. Art, media, writing, all are a form of expression and anyone, ANYONE, suggesting they can be absolutely unbiased is lying, delusional, or both. As Hunter S. Thompson once penned “So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here–not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”
“So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here–not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.” (Hunter S. Thompson)
There will be a part of the artist in anything they produce. This stands for journalism also. So yes, there probably was a vacuum perceived by the right wing. They demanded a voice and the likes of Rupert Murdoch stepped up and created Fox News. The likes of Limbaugh and the right wing pundits filled the airways. Ann Coulter and her ilk wrote books bashing all that is liberal. And the online presence of the far right like Brietbart and Drudge filled the blogs with their version of reality.
There was definitely an audience in waiting. They fed off this stuff as if it was what their souls were crying out for all along. The problem was the audience didn’t stop to ask if any of it was truth. They merely assumed that, if it is not left wing, if it is anti-liberal, anti-progressive, then it is true. Generously sprinkled in and about the message were cries to end abortion, cries that they, the righteous Christian soul of America, were under assault by the left wing progressive terrorist entity among them. There were wars on their beliefs, their practices, their holidays, themselves and their God. The word of the day was fear. Fear LGBT people, fear women’s rights, fear abortion, fear the left wing agenda, fear gay rights, minority rights. Out your window, they were told, is any and all manner of entities bent on stealing your way of life, your religious freedoms, your very existence.
Truth be told the vast majority of the United States is Christian, about 83% according to google. About 4% identify as “other” like Jewish, Muslim, etc. while 13% identify as no religion which could range from non-denominational to atheist. The vast majority of that 13% consider themselves a believer in something at least, they are merely not willing to term it Christian. That means those little conservatives are lying about the war on their religious freedoms. They have the numbers. A casual observer to this nation during Christmastime will be able to tell you who is winning this non-existent war.
As far as the other things the right loves to talk about merely looking at the fact checking entities online like snopes and politifact will tell you the vast majority of what the right are told to believe is mostly false or downright made up. And yes, the right wing loathes the fact checking sites. They are liberal entities that lie to discredit them. But this is the way of the far right and far left in an age when facts are hard to discern and not welcome in the conversation.
I believe that back when the media was left leaning that they did not realize it. I believe they thought they were reporting things not just as they saw them but as they actually were. I also believe they were somewhat mistaken. I mean yes they reported the stories as they saw them but, as Hunter explained, Objective journalism fails in the end. They could not, did not, actually report them as they were. I write a lot and I assure you I do not attempt to be unbiased. I may attempt to understand where the other side is coming from but often that is merely so I can explain to them why they are wrong. My point though is that, before 96, before the loss of the fairness doctrine, before the dawn of the right wing media empire, I truly believe any real bias was unintentional, or possibly they felt, in check.
The dawn of the right wing media engine however has created agendas. The right wing was clearly on a mission to make their voice heard at the expense of anything and everything, including the truth. Misinformation, exaggeration, outright lies, insults, name calling, anything and everything was on the table as long as it remained filled with the ideology of the right and the cry that they were the downtrodden. In response the left changed and became purposely biased. Spewed their own fears and lies. And here we sit. Two sides hopelessly entrenched in belief systems of fear and hate. Beliefs that the other side is unworthy of so much as an attempt to understand.
The vacuum may have existed. I believe it did. But the content the right filled this vacuum with was still, is still, absolutely appalling. They will stop at nothing to win the discussion. They fill their followers with all manner of things untrue. Their followers then spew this about as if it is actual information. They come off often as soulless bags of hate. To attempt a dialogue with the majority of them is to bang your head against a wall. In the end you will be bloodied into unconsciousness and they will strut about as if what they said matters, as if they have proven you wrong.
In the end I get the Limbaughs and the Coulters of this world. They saw a niche and exploited it. They saw a ready audience and spewed hatred and the most vile garbage and cashed the checks. Who knows what they really believe. But the Fox news, the Breitbart, the Drudge report I believe they believe what they say. Oh sure there is a paycheck involved for sure and who can say what is really in a persons heart but they come off as believers. And to believe what you are saying when all you are saying is hatred and all you do is incite fear and stir the pot of division, then you are not part of any solution I might recognize but rather part of the problem. I have never met a conservative atheist though I imagine a few exist. Most conservatives I have met call themselves Christian. It is time they stopped and examined themselves and tried to live up to what they claim to find divine.
As far as opening a dialogue with a far right wingnut, a supporter of the right’s media empire, I would suggest, if you value your sanity, you avoid it. But if you ignore my advice then expect all manner of factless information sent your way. If and when you refute these untruths with some information you researched from a credible source stand back. Now comes the vile portion of tonight’s entertainment. They will call you any manner of things usually left on a 6th graders recess playground. if online they may block you or unfriend you as to question their beliefs is to question who and what they are. While you may, at some point, attempt to understand where they are coming from and then to empathize and explain why you see the situation otherwise, they will never, NEVER, go down that road. You disagree, you are the enemy, this is their stance. Now, in fairness ( which they will never say) I have conversed with some extreme left humans and had similar results but I find the right worse by far. More of them and more hatred will come your way. If it is a family member, decide if thanksgiving dinner is more important before you begin.
So I suppose the vacuum was there but they are responsible for the content they filled it with.