Popping a Conservative Media Bubble
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Popping a Conservative Bubble

In response to falling poll numbers, Donald Trump and his campaign are lashing out against perceived biased media coverage. He’d be up 20% in the polls if the media wasn’t rigged against him, says Trump.

While conservatives are onboard with perceived bias, they aren’t buying the story. See The Wall Street Journal or National Review which writes,”Trump’s media coverage is obviously also due to his late-stage case of foot-in-mouth disease, compounded by his extraordinary penchant for dousing campaign fires with diesel fuel.”

More interesting is a partial transcript released by Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy of an interview with conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes. In it, Sykes talks about the larger issue of conservatives living within a filter bubble.

Here’s what Sykes had to say:

We’ve basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers. There’s nobody.

Let’s say that Donald Trump basically makes whatever you want to say, whatever claim he wants to make. And everybody knows it’s a falsehood. The big question of my audience, it is impossible for me to say that, ‘By the way, you know it’s false.’ And they’ll say, Why? ‘I saw it on Allen B. West.’ Or they’ll say, ‘I saw it on a Facebook page.’ And I’ll say, The New York Times did a fact check.’ And they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s The New York Times. That’s bullshit.’ There’s nobody — you can’t go to anybody and say, ‘Look, here are the facts.’ And I have to say that’s one of the disorienting realities of this political year. You can be in this alternative media reality and there’s no way to break through it. And I swim up stream because if I don’t say these things from some of these websites, then suddenly I have sold out. Then they’ll ask what’s wrong with me for not repeating these stories that I know not to be true.

When this is all over, we have to go back. There’s got to be a reckoning on all this. We’ve created this monster. And look, I’m a conservative talk show host. All conservative hosts have basically established their brand as being contrasted to the mainstream media. So we have spent 20 years demonizing the liberal mainstream media. And by the way, a lot of it has been justifiable. There is real bias. But, at a certain point you wake up and you realize you have destroyed the credibility of any credible outlet out there. And I am feeling, to a certain extent, that we are reaping the whirlwind at that. And I have to look in the mirror and ask myself, ‘To what extent did I contribute?’ I’ll be honest, the bias of the mainstream media has been a staple for every conservative talk show host, every conservative pundit for as long as I can remember. Going way back into the 1960s with William F. Buckley Jr.

Somewhat Related: Facts may be facts but Newt Gingrich claims things don’t feel that way.

Also Related: The Conservative Echo Chamber Is Making the Right Intellectually Deaf.

Michael Cervieri
michael@thefjp.org

Michael Cervieri is the creator of the Future Journalism Project where he explores better ways to produce, consume and understand the news. He has taught Internet and Mobile communication technologies at both the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the university’s School of International and Public Affairs. (Twitter | Contact)