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The right wing mythos

February 7, 2017

Charles Sykes, a former right-wing talk show host, morbidly watches the monster he helped create:

For years, as a conservative radio talk show host, I played a role in that conditioning by hammering the mainstream media for its bias and double standards. But the price turned out to be far higher than I imagined. The cumulative effect of the attacks was to delegitimize those outlets and essentially destroy much of the right’s immunity to false information. We thought we were creating a savvier, more skeptical audience. Instead, we opened the door for President Trump, who found an audience that could be easily misled.

Paul Rosenberg explains how “fake” news takes on power when it is used to weave a false history and false state of the world, that nonetheless hangs together in a psychologically compelling way:

While Trump lied in many different ways about many different things throughout his campaign, fake history provided the surrounding mythological framework that made his other lies work. It justified them, made them sound plausible and formed the foundation for other lies he built on top of them — especially the notion that he was a unique truth-teller on the side of “real Americans” and that anyone who said anything different was out to get them, especially anyone who challenged Donald Trump. .. Trump is a salesman, and he’s selling a story: a story of American decline that he alone can fix.

There has been a flurry of articles in the right-wing media trying to point out newsstories in the main stream media that were somehow wrong, i.e., “fake” news is a problem everywhere. Those are directing people’s attention to the trees, and away from the forest.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    February 7, 2017 10:55 am

    Why aren’t these “right-wing” radio hosts going back to their shows to repent? Even Glenn Beck is going around asking for forgiveness, but only from reputable media outlets. I think they are trying to fix their reputation, not actually work to undo the damage they have created. If I am a wacko that used to believe everything Beck said, they I’m not going to go read the Atlantic to learn how wrong he was and change my mind! UNTIL these people take responsibility IN FRONT OF THEIR VERY AUDIENCES and in the right-wing radio shows that still exist, I think they are only trying to further their careers.

    • Michael G. permalink
      February 7, 2017 8:10 pm

      Haven’t you seen Beck’s website, where he often posts TV video of himself on various subjects? He has directly shared with his primary audience all of this. I think therefore, since I’ve seen him do this, that he has taken responsibility for his errors.
      All columnists, talk-show hosts and journalists should do that…. frankly, I also think outright comedians should do that, too – and Bill Maher – both a comedian and a TV commentator has done that several times, with admirable confessions of his past blind spots.
      Both Beck and Maher are among those setting a good example now.

      • rturpin permalink*
        February 7, 2017 9:33 pm

        Interesting. I wonder how that has affected the composition of his audience?

  2. rturpin permalink*
    February 7, 2017 11:53 am

    Sykes is retired. Beck will move onto whatever he wants to do next. You’re not going to get repentance. It wouldn’t help things, alas, even if it happened.

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