In the week when a new James Bond film is coming out, it’s fitting that two lefty writers are both shaken and stirred by recent Republican blasts at media bias.
Boston College history professor Heather Cox Richardson notes that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz’s slams at the media during the last GOP presidential debate are “nothing new” for the right.
In a Sunday article for Salon, Richardson charged that “since the 1950s, Movement Conservatives have fought the fair examination of their ideas. They embrace a worldview in which a few wealthy men control the economy and dominate society. This idea repels most Americans…Movement Conservatives have gained power only by obfuscating reality. They make war on the media because it sheds daylight on their machinations. Transparency threatens their power.”
Richardson’s piece chronicles those decades of conservative anti-media activism as well as the emergence of Fox News. Here’s her not-especially-fair-or-balanced take on an important 1987 development: “During Reagan’s presidency, the FCC accepted the idea that fact-based reporting had an inherent liberal bias. It abandoned the [F]airness [D]octrine that required media to present both sides of an argument. With that abandonment, Movement Conservatives were free to push their own worldview, free of facts.”
She wrapped up by speculating that the right may be taking its cue from a different medium:
In psychology, trying to force others to accept the reality of a fake world is called gaslighting. It got its name from the 1944 film “Gaslight,” in which a husband convinces his wife and their neighbors that she is insane. He repeatedly dims the lights in the house and, when she calls attention to the fading lights, insists that the change is entirely in her own head. The only way to stop gaslighting is to shine the light of reality onto a situation. That makes it imperative for the perpetrator to keep victims in the dark.
Are Movement Conservatives gaslighting voters by trying to keep the media from reporting on their fake reality?
Also on Sunday, Washington Monthly blogger David Atkins declared that the MSM are “facing an existential threat” and urged them to not give in:
Republicans [are] increasingly unashamed to tell grandiose lies and respond to any press criticism with derogatory insults and whines about media bias as well as blackmail threats to cancel appearances if the questions are too tough…
If the press chooses to assuage and give comfort to the GOP, it will lose what little credibility it has left…
…It never pays to give a bully what they want, unless the bully has absolute power over you. The GOP does not hold that sort of power over the press. Indeed, the GOP has far more to fear from the press than the other way around.