Update — Studies of media and internet consumption contradict Politico narrative of conservative cocoon.
You know how much I dislike Politico, going way back.
Politico practices a particularly pernicious anti-Republican, anti-conservative, and anti-Tea Party brand of reporting … the relentless attempt to marginalize under the guise of news. Politico is no better than The Washington Post (from which its founders came) or The New York Times, but because it is not legacy media, it is not viewed with the same caution.
One of today’s lead articles by co-founder Jonathan Martin, The GOP’s media cocoon, is classic.
Declare the GOP to live in a media cocoon based on the statements mostly by three people (writers Ross Douthat of The NY Times and Ben Domenech, and a failed GOP candidate who lost the Senate race to Rand Paul) — hence, this is a “news” story — without considering the reality that almost the entire media is a liberal cocoon to which conservative outlets are a breath of fresh air. The few dissenting voices are buried deep in the article — so Politico is fair!
We are bombarded with liberal media all day long — yet to seek out alternatives means we are in a cocoon?
We read NY Times stories every day, except we often don’t realize it because they are reprints in local newspapers. We read Politico all day long, except we don’t realize it because it appears under a Yahoo or other news banner. We have no choice but to listen to CBS and other mainstream media, because our local news stations use their news feeds. We live in a world of a social agenda entertainment industry.
And yes, we watch MSNBC, just look at the Twitter feeds of conservatives and you will understand that we hang on almost every Chris Matthews rant.
The notion of a cocoon unique to conservatives is nonsense, and without any evidence.
What about all the liberals who refuse to watch Fox News, and Media Matters which is organized for the very purpose of destroying Fox News. For every example of a conservative cocoon I could give you 10 examples of liberal cocoons.
We were in such a cocoon that we selected Mitt Romney as nominee, the favorite of the supposedly non-cocoon Republicans, who then was destroyed by the liberal media during the general election.
According to Politico, conservatives uniquely filter out all alternative sources, but where is the proof such filtering is worse than with liberals?
But if the Fox News-talk radio-Drudge Report axis is the most powerful force in the conservative cocoon, technology has rendered even those outlets as merely the most popular destinations in the choose-your-own-adventure news world in which consumers are more empowered than ever.
Facebook and Twitter feeds along with email in-boxes have taken the place of the old newspaper front page, except that the consumer is now entirely in charge of what he or she sees each day and can largely shut out dissenting voices. It’s the great irony of the Internet era: People have more access than ever to an array of viewpoints, but also the technological ability to screen out anything that doesn’t reinforce their views.
“The Internet amplifies talk radio and cable news, and provides distribution for other sources like Newsmax,” said Trey Grayson, 40, the former Kentucky secretary of state and the current head of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “Then your friends, who usually agree with you, disseminate the same stories on Facebook and Twitter. And you assume that everyone agrees with you!”
This is complete and utter BS, but it is BS with a purpose…. to undermine the alternatives to the Politicos of the world.
Conservatives are under constant attack by the media to marginalize us. That we seek out alternatives is understandable, but it doesn’t mean we are in a cocoon. We understand alternative views all too well.
The unimodal distributions centered around zero, indicate that Democrats and Republicans have similar news consumption patterns. Only a small unrepresentative subset of the public is sorting themselves into ideologically like-minded enclaves.
To summarize, most individuals do not refuse to hear the other side. In fact, most people consume predominately non-partisan local TV newscasts, while tuning out news from partisan sources altogether. Of those who do turn to partisan sources, most Republicans and Democrats have virtually indistinguishable news diets. Contrary to recent claims, there is little evidence that the electorate is self-sorting into “ideologically like-minded information cocoons” at the level being described by scholars and political commentators.
Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro, both of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, have measured ideological segregation on the Internet. They took methodologies that have been used to identify racial segregation, and they tracked how people of different political views move around the Web.
The methodology is complicated, but can be summarized through a geographic metaphor. Think of the Fox News site as Casper, Wyo. If you visited and shook hands with the people reading the site, you’d be very likely to be shaking hands with a conservative. The New York Times site, they suggest, is like Manhattan. If you shook hands with other readers, you’d probably be shaking hands with liberals.
The study measures the people who visit sites, not the content inside.
According to the study, a person who visited only Fox News would have more overlap with conservatives than 99 percent of Internet news users. A person who only went to The Times’s site would have more liberal overlap than 95 percent of users.
But the core finding is that most Internet users do not stay within their communities. Most people spend a lot of time on a few giant sites with politically integrated audiences, like Yahoo News.
But even when they leave these integrated sites, they often go into areas where most visitors are not like themselves. People who spend a lot of time on Glenn Beck’s Web site are more likely to visit The New York Times’s Web site than average Internet users. People who spend time on the most liberal sites are more likely to go to foxnews.com than average Internet users. Even white supremacists and neo-Nazis travel far and wide across the Web.
It is so easy to click over to another site that people travel widely. And they’re not even following links most of the time; they have their own traveling patterns.
Gentzkow and Shapiro found that the Internet is actually more ideologically integrated than old-fashioned forms of face-to-face association — like meeting people at work, at church or through community groups. You’re more likely to overlap with political opponents online than in your own neighborhood.
This study suggests that Internet users are a bunch of ideological Jack Kerouacs. They’re not burrowing down into comforting nests. They’re cruising far and wide looking for adventure, information, combat and arousal.
The above updates prove what is wrong with Politico. It finds an anti-conservative narrative it wants to push, finds a small number of conservative voices to back it up, and then presents it as proven.