Fusion’s Alex Pareene seems to think that America’s biggest problem isn’t any of the usual suspects (e.g., deindustrialization, terrorism, health-care costs) but rather the popularity of conservative media among conservative politicians.
For a long time, contended Pareene in a Wednesday piece, “the conservative movement peddled one set of talking points to the rabble, while its elites consumed a more grounded and reality-based media.” Then, however (bolding added):
The complete and inarguable disaster of the Bush administration -- a failure of the conservative movement itself…and [Bush’s] abrupt replacement by a black man, caused a national nervous breakdown among the people who’d been told, for many years, that conservatism could not fail…
…Republicans realized they’d radicalized their base to a point where nothing they did in power could satisfy their most fervent constituents. Then -- in a much more consequential development -- a large portion of the Republican Congressional caucus became people who themselves consume garbage conservative media, and nothing else.
Pareene then put it even more crudely: “Congressional Republicans went from people who were able to turn their bullshit-hose on their constituents, in order to rile them up, to people who pointed it directly at themselves, mouths open.” Moreover, Republican pols heavily influenced by righty media include the current POTUS: “Donald Trump the deranged believer of bizarre untruths about the world at large is actually a fairly recent development. This is why, when he flirted with presidential runs in the past, he spoke positively of universal healthcare. This is why, when he planned to win the nomination of the Reform Party in 2000, he attacked Pat Buchanan as a right-wing extremist…Trump today is a cruel dolt turned into a raving madman by cable news and Breitbart.com.”
According to Pareene, some GOPers overestimate the conservatism of the country as a whole while others don’t. Consequently, “the most important major divide among Congressional Republicans [is] between those who know that their agenda is hugely unpopular and that they have to force it through under cover of darkness, and the louder, dumber ones who believe their own bullshit…This is how Mitch McConnell ended up so hugely unpopular and despised in his own party that he attracted a high-profile primary challenger during the period when he was doing more than any other person in Washington to thwart the Democratic Party…And this is why Republicans couldn’t repeal Obamacare.”
Our national predicament, Pareene asserted, has been a long time coming:
Because there was a lot of money in it for various hucksters and moguls and authors and politicians, the conservative movement [has] spent decades building up an entire sector of the economy dedicated to scaring and lying to older white men. For millions of members of that demographic, this parallel media dedicated to lying to them has totally supplanted the “mainstream” media. Now they, and we, are at the mercy of the results of that project. The inmates are running the asylum, if there is a kind of asylum that takes in many mostly sane people and then gradually, over many years, drives one subset of its inmates insane, and also this asylum has the largest military in the world.
Prior to joining Fusion, Pareene worked at Salon and Gawker as well as on The Racket, a Matt Taibbi-centric enterprise that never got off the ground.