New Republic Writer: Conservative Media Have Reached Their ‘Evolutionary Endpoint: Sheer Propaganda’

Many years ago, Rush Limbaugh started calling the MSM “state-run media.” The New Republic’s Sarah Jones indicated on Wednesday that Rush’s description might better fit righty outlets whose agendas dovetail with President Trump’s.

“The Trump era has brought conservative media to its evolutionary endpoint: sheer propaganda,” wrote Jones. “It can be seen in the National Rifle Association’s new video channel, where the conservative provocateur Dana Loesch calls on followers to come together in a ‘clenched fist of truth’ to defeat America’s liberal enemies. It can be seen in the growing Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose viewers are breathlessly updated about threats to the homeland through its ‘Terrorism Alert Desk.’ And it can be seen in a constellation of right-wing websites -- Breitbart, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, Townhall -- that traffic in xenophobia, homophobia, racism, and social Darwinism.”

Moreover, Jones argued, Trump’s use of “the bully pulpit and social media” demonstrates his understanding that his “supporters [want] a powerful person to voice their own prejudices and fears, their hatreds and ambitions. All of this has contributed to an environment that bears the hallmarks of a budding propaganda state, in which mass media is used to make nakedly emotional appeals to a perpetually inflamed electorate, and marginalized communities (immigrants, people of color, Muslims, trans people) are targeted as national scapegoats.”

Jones views Fox News as a transitional entity. She contended that despite the channel’s “veneer of professional journalism,” we nonetheless “reap the results” of Roger Ailes’s “propagandistic techniques” in “everything from the Fox News viewer’s belief that Hillary did Benghazi to the conservative consensus that Obamacare is ‘collapsing’…But these stories at least take kernels of truth…and blow them up to conspiratorial proportions. The new propaganda we are seeing is closer to outright fantasy.” For example:

Speaking for the NRA, Dana Loesch insists that Barack Obama and his band of wicked elites tell liberal protesters “to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness”…

Trump’s position played into a deeply embedded conservative narrative that left-wing, often minority activists fighting for their rights are just as dangerous as racists seeking to suppress those rights -- that the broader struggle for civil rights is violent and illegitimate and hateful.

In this, Trump and Loesch aren’t just trying to deceive their followers. They are reinforcing and expanding on what their supporters already believe. [Italics in original.]

Meanwhile, suggested Jones, conservatives are taking the MSM for a ride:

It has become an article of faith on the right that non-right media is malicious propaganda, even as the right itself has been almost entirely overtaken by actual propaganda. But does the mainstream press understand this?...

CNN…has around a dozen pro-Trump commentators on its roster -- a decision the network justifies as proof of its objectivity and its respect for conservative viewpoints. And yet what CNN’s audience is treated to is propagandized dreck…

 

CNN is an egregious example, but standard conservative propaganda is published in even the most prestigious news organizations. Despite the fact that the United States boasts the only major political party in the developed world that denies the existence of climate change, The New York Times just hired a climate denier [Bret Stephens] for its op-ed page…

The line between a conservative opinion and straight propaganda has become exceedingly thin, to the point that it is often difficult to distinguish between the two…

Conservative propaganda succeeds because it taps into real fear and a real sense of alienation. It doesn’t have to explain that fear and alienation with facts, as Trump’s campaign proved. 

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