Throughout the course of a personal project, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with immigrants from all but one continent. One individual spoke of living behind the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union, where propaganda about the “evils” of the West ran rampant.
The U.S.S.R. had a vested interest in keeping the wandering eye of its oppressed people in check by lying to its population about the freedom beyond its borders.
It’s a common tale, and propaganda is indeed a powerful tool.
I came across a Salon.com article recently that made an intriguing claim: “Why Conservatives Prefer Propaganda to Reality.”
Amanda Marcotte’s inspiration stems from a study by Pew Research that, in sum, finds that conservatives tend to gravitate towards fewer media outlets than liberals and that conservatives distrust far more media outlets than their liberal counterparts.
The writer takes it a step further: “The less charitable way is to say Pew discovered that conservatives are consuming a right-wing media full of lies and misinformation, whereas liberals are more interested in media that puts facts before ideology.”
So, is it really we conservatives who are the willing victims of this age-old trick?
Consider Ms. Marcotte’s claim about the news sources that some respondents trusted: “Most of them are fairly straightforward news organizations with no overt political agenda, like NPR, various network news, CNN, and the New York Times.”
While Ms. Marcotte does openly admit that a few sources are decidedly left-wing (i.e. MSNBC—to her credit), her concept of the other networks’ lack of “overt political agenda” is intellectually dishonest.
Moreover, it paints a conveniently distorted picture of the news sources in America by placing them in three categories—a small far left presence, a large objective presence, and a substantial far right presence. In that sense it is much easier to paint a picture of conservatives and their preferred news outlets as concerning “fringe.”
Conversely, when you view the media outlets in the country as they more realistically are—generally left wing or generally right wing—it’s a little harder to paint right-leaning media as a nutty “fringe.” You’re forced to have to start talking about right ideas, and wrong ideas.
To the point, however—I’ll let the aforementioned unbiased news services (and in some cases, their shareholders) speak for themselves:
NPR: Perhaps most notable are some 2011 remarks by then-NPR executive Ron Schiller, in which he refers to the Tea Party conservatives as “white, gun-toting … xenophobic … seriously racist people.” He peppered those comments with a few zingers about Jews, too. To NPR’s credit, Schiller eventually resigned, as did the organization’s CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation to Ron). But, as Hotair.com aptly pointed out, “if Schiller represents the executive view at NPR, it’s not hard to imagine what kind of treatment those white, gun-toting, xenophobic Tea Partiers can expect from NPR’s news coverage.”
CNN: Earlier this year, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and CNN president Jeff Zucker were taken thoroughly to task at a Time Warner shareholder meeting. The topic? CNN’s overt liberal bias. The Hollywood Reporter brings us the animated commentary of a particular shareholder: “If a terrorist attack that kills four Americans, followed by a coordinated cover-up by the White House, does not constitute 'news,' then CNN should remove the middle 'N' from its name. CNN is going to try to force its viewers to eat their peas on climate change while continuing to ignore the Benghazi scandal."
The New York Times: I’ll leave this one to the Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, who seems to have other ideas about her paper’s ideological slant—and expressed as much in a 2013 interview with CNN’s Joanne Lipman. You can watch Sullivan unabashedly refer to her paper’s liberal bias here.
Ms. Marcotte’s analysis of conservative ideology stems from her belief that the outlets conservatives choose are rife with lies: “…both consistent and mostly conservative people love Glenn Beck, though he’s a well-known purveyor of outrageous conspiracy theories that percolate up to him from fringe characters.”
Indeed, Glenn Beck has been mocked for warning against things like a Middle Eastern Caliphate, a downgrade in our nation’s credit rating, increased government invasion in our privacy, and Ebola in Texas, to name just a few.
Glenn Beck speaks on his radio program October 9, 2014. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)
Whatever you feel about Glenn Beck and his brand of commentary, it’s fascinating to see people applaud networks like CNN— that go to incredible lengths to avoid talking about a major scandal (see: Benghazi)—but will instantly mock someone who brings attention to uncomfortable world issues—whether or not they ultimately unfold the way he might’ve “predicated.”
According to Ms. Marcotte, Fox News is the “driving factor” behind this nation’s polarization: “Fox News is one of the main factors, possibly the main factor, driving political polarization in this country. Huge chunks of this country listen mostly or solely to a relentless stream of misinformation coming from Fox News, coupled with warnings, implied or even baldly stated, to avoid listening to other, more factually accurate news sources. Unsurprisingly, then, more people are becoming conservatives and people who were already conservative are becoming more hardline about it.”
Throughout the entire piece, Ms. Marcotte takes no time to actually substantiate her copious claims that right-leaning media is nothing but a consistently “warm blanket” of lies and misinformation.
Did it ever occur to Ms. Marcotte that the growing polarization in the country might just stem from an epically divisive president who was once infamously quoted as telling Republicans that “they can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back"?
After all, as one of my favorite movies wisely notes, “attitude reflects leadership, captain.”
Did it ever occur to Ms. Marcotte that a growth in conservatism (or at least a concern with the direction of our nation) stems not from so-called conservative media “propaganda,” but from a mounting concern with liberal policies, whose failures (a weakened national security, a nearly doubled national debt, a massive increase in Americans on government assistance, etc. etc.) have been in hyper drive these past six years?
I’ll leave you with a few thoughts:
Is it truly easier to believe that the largest ideological group in America (or, 40+% of the American population) are zombie-like, Soviet-era brainwashing victims, or . . . that there might actually something wrong with liberalism and the networks that propagate it?
With the monumental effort by liberal media to actually avoid talking about certain issues (especially those that might paint Barack Obama in a negative light), is it outrageous to suggest that liberals—and not conservatives—are the ones disinterested in facts?
Is it instead liberal America that prefers propaganda (after all, what is burying news to protect a president if not propaganda) over reality?
Mary Ramirez is a full time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com – a political commentary blog, and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.