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2012 Reasons Why Progressives Should Love Right-Wing Media

Thanks so much, Roger Ailes – we couldn’t have done it without you!
 
 
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FOx Attacks Obama

 
 
 
 

Thanks so much, Roger Ailes – we couldn’t have done it without you! And all praise to George Will, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, et al – if not for you, and your legions of credulous friends and followers, we never could have re-elected Barack Obama…

Think about it for a moment. Without Fox News, talk radio, the Drudge Report, conservative bloggers like Erick Erickson and the rest of the self-insulating, self-inoculating and obviously self-deluding right wing media echo chamber, there’s just no way Barack Obama could have pulled himself off the ropes and back into the victor’s circle.

Without the wacky hacks and their irrational attacks, it’s highly likely Mitt Romney and his cohorts would be celebrating instead today – and that the Senate would have swung Republican as well. After all, as columnist Nicholas Kristof put it in the New York Times, “This was one that the Republicans really should have won.”

Heresy? Hardly! As Kristof accurately noted, “Given the weak economy, American voters were open to firing President Obama…. And, at the beginning of this year, it looked as if the Republicans might win control of the United States Senate as well.”

So what happened? For one thing, the vast right wing media conspiracy started to believe its own hype – and as a result got hoist on its own petard. Living in a carefully circumscribed disinformation cocoon eventually led to the entire party being sucked into a swirling “ideological black hole,” as the right wing media ginned up so much outrage that first cable crazies and later their mutant offspring, the Tea Party, took over the primary process. In so doing, they managed first to blow GOP control of the Senate, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with an odd insistence on putting up a succession of kooky kandidates, (ranging from Christine “I am not a witch!” O’Donnell to Todd “legitimate rape” Akin) and thus losing a series of eminently winnable seats. At the same time, their extreme insistence on policy purity ended up also driving moderates like Olympia Snowe clear out of the party – and consequently, a Republican majority out of the Senate.

Next the conservative media focused on a number of equally kooky kandidates for President – a veritable joke-of-the-week club that at one time included everyone from Donald Trump to Herman Cain – while at the same time pushing Mitt Romney, the only contender with any real chance of later tacking to the center and winning a general election, so far to the “severely conservative” side of issues like immigration that he was never able to recover.

No, it wasn’t the vaunted’ “ground game,” or Obama’s magnetic personality, or indeed, much of anything on offer from Democrats that caused the Republican defeat. Obama’s re-election wasn’t so much a result of “destiny” or “demography,” as the instant conventional wisdom now has it, as of sheer stupidity and denial on the part of the Republican elders. Their ostrich-like behavior, exacerbated by the breathless pandering of Faux News & Co., has seen Republicans lose the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Let them keep their false narratives and insistence that Nate Silver and the polls are somehow biased. As Conor Friedersdorf wrote in the Atlantic, “On the biggest political story of the year, the conservative media just got its ass handed to it by the mainstream media.”

So Rush, BillO, Glenn, Roger and pals – please keep it up guys, we literally can’ t do it without you!

And here’s a modest proposal for Democrats, liberals and their progressive allies: instead of complaining constantly about Limbaugh and Beck or Murdoch and Hannity, start supporting them in any way possible. Contribute to their pledge drives. Patronize their advertisers. Lie to the ratings agencies to boost their numbers. After all, keeping Republicans in the dark with inane conspiracies and misinformation, cut off from accurate assessments of political and societal developments, and trapped in a “faith-based” rather than “reality-based” mindset, is clearly a winning tactic.

Filmmaker and journalist Rory O'Connor is the author of "Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio" (AlterNet Books, 2008). O'Connor also writes the Media Is A Plural blog.