Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Speaking of Dishonesty, Is the Long, Right-Wing Grift Grinding to a Close? (Probably Not Soon Enough)

Hard to tell. Bill O'Reilly may finally get his comeuppance as sponsors leave him in droves, but it's hard to wean the rubes from the far-right teets they've been sucking on. But at least it's starting to be out in the open.

Illustration: Jim Cooke/FMG

Atrios flagged one part of the story by Alex Pareene. Here's my slice:
For years, the conservative movement peddled one set of talking points to the rabble, while its elites consumed a more grounded and reality-based media. The rubes listened to talk radio, read right-wing blogs, watched Fox News. They were fed apocalyptic paranoia about threats to their liberty, racial hysteria about the generalized menace posed by various groups of brown people, and hysterical lies about the criminal misdeeds of various Democratic politicians. The people in charge, meanwhile, read The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard, and they tended to have a better grasp of political reality, as when those sources deceived their readers, it was mostly unintentionally, with comforting fantasies about the efficacy of conservative policies. From the Reagan era through the Bush administration, the system seemed to be performing as designed.
The funny thing is that Donald Trump may not be sophisticated enough to know not to drink from the same well as the poor stiffs who believe him. A snake-oil salesman eating his own tail?
The bottom-feeding amorality of the sorts of people who sponsored the right-wing press, and the crummy nature of the products and services sold, shows exactly who was supposed to be consuming it: suckers. Or, more specifically, trusting retirees, with a bit of disposable income, and a natural inclination to hate modernity and change—an inclination that could be heightened, radicalized, and exploited.
I'm just cynical enough to accept that maybe this is the way civilizations die, or at least one of the ways. A non-intellectual bubble within an intellectual one, with the manipulators feeding the rubes in a not-quite circular fashioning of epistemic closure. It's grotesque and probably, in this day and age, increasingly dangerous.

I don't feel good.

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