Politico Shocked at Positive-Thinking Americans Outside Liberal Media Bubble

April 29th, 2017 3:37 PM

The story is a revealing look inside the liberal media bubble.

Over here at Politico is this headline “The Strange Psychological Power of ‘Fox & Friends.’”

But it’s the sub-headline that provides the real look inside both the liberal media bubble and the left-wing mind. That would read: “Unrelenting positivity has a powerful warping effect on your thinking. So how is that affecting Viewer No. 1?”

The piece is written by unabashed liberal writer Joanna Weiss, who has hung her journalistic creds at places like the liberal Boston Globe, Slate and elsewhere. 

Weiss’s central point is contained in this sentence: “Trump’s cozy relationship with “Fox & Friends” has become one of the great curiosities of his unusual presidency.”

In other words, while the world and his administration are going to hell in a hand-basket in the rest of the media world — make that the liberal media world -Trump is starting his day by going to this particular FNC show because “‘Fox & Friends’” remains unrelentingly positive.”

Now let’s put Fox & Friends aside. I am, after all, (full disclosure) a commentator on rival CNN where I start my day with CNN’s competing morning show New Day. The striking aspect of this article is not the Trump-Fox & Friends relationship. No, the telling reveal of the liberal mindset is that first part of the story’s sub-headline, which, again, reads: “Unrelenting positivity has a powerful warping effect on your thinking.”

One can only wonder at the lack of connectivity with the American psyche outside of the liberal media bubble and the liberal mind itself.

Never mentioned in the article is that when it came time to go to church on Sunday the younger Donald Trump wasn’t going to just any church. As he has mentioned many times, Trump was attending services at New York’s Marble Collegiate Church, the church where the famous proponent of positive thinking — the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale — held the pulpit. Peale, quite memorably, made his mark in American culture with his bestselling book The Power of Positive Thinking

As it happens, I too was a Peale fan and on a visit to New York years ago made a point of attending Marble Collegiate to hear the Great Man preach. As with his bestselling book - the first of a string of positive thinking tomes — Peale did not disappoint. He was endlessly capable of finding ways to deliver the kind of message found in the chapter titles of his first book. 

Titles with names like “Believe in Yourself”, “Expect the Best and Get It”, and “I Don’t Believe in Defeat” were standard in his works. No better indication of the book’s power could be found then by the endorsement on the back cover of  the 1967 paperback. (The first version appeared in 1952 when Donald Trump was six years old.) The endorsement read: “This book has furnished me great spiritual strength and peace of mind - J.Edgar Hoover.” In the day, of course, the founding father of the FBI was a national icon. 

The point here is simple. Peale was putting into words the psychology that millions of Americans associated with their country and their own personal lives. From the words of the Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”) to Franklin Roosevelt’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” to Ronald Reagan’s “City on a Shining Hill” time and time again in American history and culture the theme of positive thinking appears and reappears. Politically speaking, candidates — like FDR or Reagan and others — who seem to embody that positive thinking make for formidable opponents. And in the media — “the media” defined here as film, television and books — material that features a positive view of life when dealing with challenge are celebrated. 

Examples are legion, literally endless, but one can cite examples. Books and films like Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff are typical of the brand, that one featuring the can-do positivity of the early American space program and the original seven astronauts. The 1970 Oscar-winning film Patton, a glowing tribute to the can-do daring of the brash, colorful World War II American General George S. Patton is another. 

The late Reverend Robert Schuller, he of the Chrystal Cathedral and his own books (Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!)and televised Sunday sermons was another example of the cultural importance of positive thinking. The late insurance magnate W. Clement Stone achieved cultural celebrity with bestsellers like Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude.

In today’s world there is no better example of the impact of positive thinking than with Rush Limbaugh, the epitome of the up-beat, always positive talk radio host.

When one looks at the celebrated events in actual American history — from the Pilgrims to the Boston Tea Party, the American Revolution and on to the Alamo, the Civil War, the two World Wars, the space program and getting to the moon, not to mention the positive response that surged forth instantaneously from Americans across the board in the wake of 9/11 — the presence of a positive, determined mind-set in America and Americans is impossible to miss.


Yet in spite of all this massive cultural and political history, there is Politico saying: “Unrelenting positivity has a powerful warping effect on your thinking.” Why? Why would a liberal political magazine think this way?

The answer is obvious. American liberalism decades ago abandoned the up-beat, positive, forward looking attitude that once upon a time was a characteristic of liberalism. Liberal candidates like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (whose respective slogans were the rock song “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” and “Hope and Change”) were the exceptions, not the rule.  And politically speaking they were rewarded for their positive attitudes.

But over all the negativity and relentless “we can’t do that” view of America and the world flooded the liberal mind and its accompanying world view. Here again is Weiss in Politico:

Positivity, it turns out, is a key source of power for ‘Fox & Friends.’ According to Young, the University of Delaware professor, the show is a perfect illustration of the “elaboration likelihood model” of persuasion. Developed in the 1980s by a psychologist and neuroscientist, the model describes two ways listeners are persuaded by an argument. The first involves thoughtful processing, in which a motivated listener engages with and challenges a message before reaching a conclusion. In the second path, persuasion stems from cues that have little to do with the logic of the argument itself—for example, the quality of the production or the presenter’s tone and attractiveness. Distracted by these secondary factors, the listener becomes more passive and less skeptical.

‘Fox & Friends,’ she says, seems tailor-made to lull viewers down that second path, where they swallow information without scrutiny. There’s the quick morning-show pacing: You’re less likely to think carefully if you’re distracted or under a time constraint. There are the emotional cues: When people around you are cheerful and calm, you’re prompted to avoid wasting energy on deep thought. And there’s the mockery of ‘others,’ a reassuring signal that the listener is superior and safe.

Take note that what Weiss is praising here is the idea that “thoughtful processing, in which a motivated listener engages with and challenges a message before reaching a conclusion.” As opposed to what she slams in saying that in “the second path, persuasion stems from cues that have little to do with the logic of the argument itself—for example, the quality of the production or the presenter’s tone and attractiveness. Distracted by these secondary factors, the listener becomes more passive and less skeptical.”

Got that? Being positive, upbeat and forward looking is not “thoughtful processing” that “challenges a message before reaching a conclusion.” No, being positive is all emotional poppycock.

The importance of this to understanding the liberal media and the way it operates cannot be underestimated. In a post on her website written in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, Weiss wrote tellingly (with bold print for emphasis supplied by me): 

We can start by thinking the worst of people, or we can start by thinking the best of people.

And our instincts, for most of this horrid campaign, have been to think the worst — to see a vote for the other side as a moral failing. My various feeds on Tuesday night, dominated by Northeastern urbanites and media types, were filled with disbelief at the voters who could see the totality of Donald Trump, over the course of 15 months, and still elect him the 45th president.

But if you're going to ascribe the best motives, instead, to a good portion of Americans, you can think about the presidential election results this way: This race was less a measure of what people wanted than what they were willing to overlook.

In other words? In other words “Northeastern urbanites and media types” were i.nstinctively attributing “the worst” to Americans who voted for Trump. And thus by extension, the coverage of Trump by the liberal media would have to cover whatever Trump said or did as president as some version of a “moral failing.”

In immediate practical terms, think of this as the liberal media covers the Trump “first hundred days”— a ridiculous marker that comes from FDR’s first term that coincided with the worst of the serious crisis that was the Great Depression. It doesn’t take a wizard to see it coming. 

The liberal media will grade Trump with an “F” because, don’t you know, any positive interpretation of the beginning of his presidency is nothing more than an “Unrelenting positivity” that “has a powerful warping effect on your thinking.” And therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Positive Thinking American, your point of view has no serious validity.

Which tells you everything you need to know about the vast cultural gulf separating the liberal media from their audience.