This quote from a Trump voter on the Mueller report shows how deeply right-wing media has warped its viewers' reality
Right-wing media is a much more destructive force than even many of its critics imagine.
Evidence for the depth of its corrosive effect on its viewers and society as a whole emerged in a quote from a recent NBC News report, pointed out by Media Matters for America's Matthew Gertz, about GOP Rep. Justin Amash's calls for impeachment.
The Michigan lawmaker has been making the case to his constituents for his view on President Donald Trump's crimes and impeachable offenses as laid out in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. He held a town hall this week where he discussed his reasoning and what Trump had done.
NBC News reported:
Cathy Garnaat, a Republican who supported Amash and the president said she was upset about Amash’s position but wanted to hear his reasoning. She said that she will definitely support Trump in 2020 but that Tuesday night was the first time she had heard that the Mueller report didn’t completely exonerate the president.
“I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn’t heard that before," she said. "I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated."
Gertz said Garnaat's comments showed "[w]hy the right built Fox News in one quote." Indeed, as President Richard Nixon's White House Counsel John Dean, who eventually testified against his former boss noted, Nixon "might have survived if there’d been a Fox News."
What's so striking about Garnaat's quote is not that she disagrees with Amash about the prospect of impeachment or what the Mueller report said. It's that, while citing her own consumption of conservative news, she revealed that she had no idea that the Mueller report even has any damaging information about the president.
Of course, all news outlets have their biases and slants, and one should expect that outlets more sympathetic to Trump would cover the Mueller report with a critical eye. However, if these outlets were adhering to even the bare minimum of honesty and candor while carrying out their jobs, they would make clear that the Mueller report makes an extensive case that Trump engaged in criminal wrongdoing.
We would expect that conservative media would contest Mueller's findings, his arguments, and maybe even his credibility. But instead, it seems that — following the president's lead — they're contesting the basic reality.
They've created a fantasy world where the Mueller report, which is available for free for anyone to read, completely exonerates the president. To be clear: it does nothing of the sort.
This is so damaging because it doesn't just increase polarization by amplifying opinions on either side of an issue. It builds partisan barriers within the country where conservatives don't even have a clue what critics of the president and Democrats are talking about. If Mueller's report really did exonerate the president, it would be absurd for any Democrats — or, indeed, Amash — to be citing it as a basis for impeachment. In reality, this conclusion is entirely rational and arguably obligatory, even if Fox News doesn't admit it.
This is a destructive path for a society to take, but it's where right-wing media is taking us.