A conservative electoral loss is a terrible thing to let go to waste
I pointed out yesterday that there is no reason to believe that there is any more of a conservative echo chamber/bubble/cocoon than there is a liberal echo chamber/bubble/cocoon, Politico wants conservatives to stop reading alternatives to Politico.
Don’t think that false meme comes only from the left. This post by Doug Mataconis at Outside The Beltway demonstrates that the meme lives elsewhere in the media as well, The Conservative Political Media Complex:
The day after the election, James Joyner took note of the extent to which the conservative media had spent much of the election essentially misrepresenting the state of the election to their viewers. Instead of giving them a realistic view of the state of the race, news outlets like Fox News Channel, radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and countless numbers of conservative web sites continually told them that the polls they were seeing on a daily basis were wrong because the pollsters were biased against Republicans, they told them that the American people would turn out in force against President Obama because of the weak economy, and they told them that the “mainstream media” was lying to them when it was reporting on the state of the race. As we learned on Tuesday, they were all wrong.
Being wrong doesn’t make one a liar. Where is the proof that the interpretations of the polls — that the polling was not representing the likely voter turnout — deliberately were falsified? Have liberal commentators and networks never been wrong?
To the contrary, the conservative commentators cited above explained the reasoning behind their projections, reasoning which was subject to scrutiny and much criticism prior to the election. Whether the 2008 turnout model would be replicated was something about which reasonable people could differ, and did. Dick Morris, who is the most roundly criticized, explained prior to the election that he was using a model of averaging turnout over three presidential cycles. It turned out wrong, but to say it was a deliberate deception lacks any evidence.
To try to spin being wrong based on fully disclosed reasoning with a deliberate misrepresentation requires proof, not just accusation.
Even after the election, we’re seeing the conservative media pushing an interpretation of what happened on Election Day that is rooted not in gaining insight into what might have been wrong with Romney, the Romney campaign, or the Republican Party but in reinforcing orthodoxy and insisting that real change isn’t required. The GOP’s demographic problems are acknowledged, for example, but outside of notable exceptions such as Sean Hannity and Charles Krauthammer few people on the right seem to think that the party really needs to change very much in response to what this election told us about the shifting demographics in this country, largely because that’s what people like Rush Limbaugh are telling them.
More hyperbole. In fact, there is a vibrant discussion going on whether a less than 3% national vote total loss, with closer races in key swing state, necessitates a change of principle and policy, or something else. Byron York’s piece, which I cited last night, makes the point that much of what we believe about the reasons for the loss in Ohio may not be so.
When you couple contrary evidence to the “Republicans are too old, white and male” narrative with the fact that we held the House pretty significantly, there is good reason not to jump too soon on the convenient bandwagon that the GOP needs to become Democrat-lite. To have that discussion in the open manner in which it is taking place is far from “enforcing rigid orthodoxy.”
They think that the GOP’s Latino problem can be solved simply by nominating Marco Rubio They think that Romney didn’t lose because there was something wrong with the American people. Limbaugh, for example, has spent the week since the election asserting that President Obama won by promising people a lot of free stuff and that the GOP found itself competing against Santa Claus.
The caricature that people think the GOP’s “Latino problem” can be solved by nominating Rubio does not fit reality. There is a pretty vibrant discussion about how to make better outreach to Latino voters, including discussion of the success in Texas and the rising stardom of a number of Americans of Latino descent in the party. How to get the message out to those voters is not being swept under the Rubio rug, it is being openly debated.
As for “Santa Claus,” why would anyone deny that the Democrats made a deliberate pitch to demographic groups for “free stuff.” How much did we hear about contraceptives with no deductible as a “right,” and class warfare galore about how the small percentage of the population which pays most of the taxes were not paying their “fair share.” How one counters promises that others will pay for everything is a legitimate issue.
If anything, the re-election of Barack Obama is going to do wonder for the business model of Fox News and the Limbaugh/Hannity/Levin crowd, and conservative outlets on the Internet are going to see their traffic continue to boom.
Ah yes, the ad hominem attack. It’s one we see often, that conservative outlets including blogs are motivated by financial considerations to mislead the viewership. Just think how much money I am going to make off of another four years of Obama! Damn, I may make it into the 1% yet.
Is it possible we actually believe in what we are saying? No, that’s not possible, we’re just shills.
Notwithstanding these benefits, though, this new media world also makes it very easy to immerse yourself only in information that reinforces what you already believe. You don’t have to read The New York Times to get your news, you can go to The Washington Times, the Brietbart websites, or any number of conservative blogs where you’ll find the news presented with a decided ideological basis, while at the same time emphasizing stories that most of the media isn’t really paying attention to, such as Benghazi, Fast & Furious, or any other number of supposed Obama Administration “scandals.” You can follow only the people on Twitter and Facebook that you agree with, thus further creating the impression that everyone agrees with you and shielding you from an America where things are vastly different from the way you perceive them. This isn’t a healthy way to live, in my opinion, and it’s certainly not good for the long-term health of a political movement.
Actually, at least two studies I cited yesterday debunk the mythology that technology results in people filtering out contrary information. And there is no evidence that conservatives do so more than liberals, to the extent it happens. This is simply conjecture used to justify a pre-existing belief that conservatives are the problem.
Conservatives woke up surprised last Wednesday because they’re living inside of an echo chamber, and as long as that’s the case they’re going to continue to be surprised. Unfortunately for them, the solution involves making the choice to expose yourself to a wide variety of news sources and not just the ones you agree with. That seems to be hard for many conservatives to do these days.
And liberals woke up in November 2010 with the same surprise!
Conservative echo chamber? We are immersed in the liberal news narrative. It is impossible to escape. Thousands of newspapers reprint AP, Reuters, NY Times and WaPo stories. Radio stations run CBS and other news feeds at least every hour on the hour. The networks, with one exception, are liberal. The notion of a conservative, much less uniquely conservative, echo chamber defies reality.
We are seeing the “conservative echo chamber bubble cocoon” narrative not because there is conclusive or even strong evidence to support the theory, but because it fits preconceived anti-conservative political views.
A conservative electoral loss is a terrible thing to let go to waste.