Weekend Conversation – The Future of Conservative Media
In this installment of Weekend Conversations, PF Whalen of The Blue State Conservative and Parker Beauregard of The Last Best Hope discuss how Americans can - and must - receive fair and honest news from alternative media sources under a Biden-Harris presidency.
Parker: I live and hold conservative values, but I don’t see that biasing the opinions about to follow. As it stands, I don’t see how any normal, decent, thinking, or otherwise self-aware person living in the United States can watch CNN or read the New York Times and think they are getting “the news.” It is leftist, dogmatic brain slush.
Let me back up for a second, though. CNN, the NYT, and every other purveyor of journalistic intent have a right and indeed should be allowed to say whatever they want. People always have and always will hold left-wing positions and will naturally gravitate toward a source of information that confirms and reaffirms their beliefs. However, it is misleading and deceitful to pretend to be objective and spout untruths and falsehoods every day. Did I say it was misleading and deceitful? I meant immoral. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but 2020 alone has laid bare the absence of integrity from the legacy media. They are responsible for parroting and drumming up emotions about the absurdly overstated racial divide in America; if there is any racial animus left, it is precisely because the media forces it to exist. Thomas Sowell has a great quote on this (he has a great quote for every situation). The riots in the wake of the George Floyd overdose are the result of an evil media cartel fanning hate-filled flames. Our paranoia and panic over the coronavirus have likewise been generated by malicious miscreants in the media. In both cases, the effort to “report” was not to share the “news,” but to remove a Republican president from office.
In the present moment, reporting from outlets like Daily Wire or individuals like Tucker Carlson is hardly opinion. I believe it is the truth. Am I biased because I already hold these views? No, because my views do not dictate that I adhere to a belief because someone tells me to. My value system is centered on truth seeking, and because these places and people disseminate objective analysis and truth, they are correct and the useful idiots at CNN and the NYT are dangerously wrong. The fantastic branding of conservatism as evil, bigoted, and uninformed is one of the greatest successes of leftism. Therefore, when powerful voices like the black Larry Elder or female Laura Ingraham speak on behalf of our cause, they are not celebrated as being oppressed by the white male patriarchy. Instead, they are shunned and reviled for their views.
PF: It’s a real problem, and like you said, it’s not a new phenomenon, but it is absolutely getting worse. There was a time not too long ago that I might have tuned in to CNN or perused the NYT to get facts about a certain story. They always had a leftward tint, but they had some credibility, particularly on topics that shouldn’t be political. But I don’t trust a word they say now, and the same can be said for most other mainstream media outlets. Any news from them that I do consume always comes with a heavy dose of scrutiny. I just assume they’re going to lie to me at some point, and then keep an eye out for where/when that might be.
Your point about the freedom of the press is a critical one. Yes, the mainstream media engages in both misinformation and disinformation, but that is their right, and it is not government’s role to correct it. Government does not exist to solve all of our problems. The proper fix would be for self-policing and market forces to hold the media accountable.
This past summer, for instance, when The Atlantic ran their piece with unnamed sources accusing President Trump of calling fallen World War I heroes “losers,” the story smelled like crap from the get-go. Within days, multiple people with firsthand knowledge of the situation such as anti-Trumper John Bolton came forward and debunked it, on the record, and the whole story fell apart. There should have been a reckoning for The Atlantic. They ran an entirely fictitious story only months before the election in a clear attempt to sully the president. That should have been a prominent story on CBS News and in the Washington Post, but it wasn’t. And readers of The Atlantic should have cancelled their subscriptions en masse, but they didn’t. That’s the solution, but the solution isn’t being employed.
Parker: Your mentioning of the piece in The Atlantic, the refusal of media to cover the Hunter Biden, and now the obscene take on Trump following legal protocols to challenge election results are just a few infamous ways the media has disgraced itself. Countless examples flow daily from the putrescence, making conservatives feel like Andy Dufresne as he crawls his way a mile through the sewage line of leftist media to escape prison, or in this case, the fake news.
The naming of fake news by President Trump has been a fascinating and revelatory development in itself these past few years. You and I are both new to the realm of political commentary, and a lot of that has been fostered by our genuine disgust with the media and the state of politics. I probably would not have been as involved had the events surrounding George Floyd or COVID so clearly demarcated the extent to which our ruling and media elitists would go in order to undermine truth, the Trump presidency, and American sovereignty. My awakening to the true malevolence of our legacy media has been sharply focused under Trump’s innate ability to call out shenanigans. We always knew it was corrupt, but now we really know.
The time is ripe for a conservative media awakening, but I caution against a pendulum swing that goes too far in the other direction. Every major news outlet is susceptible, in my mind, to corruption. They all need to go. But staunchly conservative sites need to be wary of performing the same role as their counterparts; our version of CNN might appeal to a host of people, but it does not accomplish the task of revealing objective realities. I think there is a lot of good news and commentary being developed, and hopefully consumers make the right choice when exploring their options. You mentioned that it’s discouraging to see publications like The Atlantic retain membership despite blatant falsehoods, and I even read that the New York Times and Washington Post increased their membership the last four years. It’s an ineffable consequence of TDS.
PF: I think most of us just want the truth. Give us the facts, and we’ll make up our own opinions. And if a journalist wants to offer an opinion, that’s fine as well, just call it out by saying, “This is my opinion.” But don’t give us opinion disguised as news, and don’t choose what stories you cover based on your opinion.
In addition to the legacy media that we’ve discussed, we also have the outrageous suppression of free speech that we’ve seen with social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook. It’s getting scary. The Daily Wire and Prager University are apparently joining forces to some extent, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see others do the same or similar. I also fully expect that those outlets will not just succeed by thrive. The time is indeed ripe.
I try to be an optimist, and this topic is no exception. Somehow, after all of the fake news, and social media algorithms, and three-plus years of Russia–Russia–Russia, President Trump was almost reelected; and who knows, he may still end up winning. Additionally, Republicans appear likely to retain control of the Senate and they picked up double-digit seats in the House of Representatives. It’s extraordinary, truly, as evidenced by the leftist pundits in the mainstream media scratching their heads at the results. We can see it on their faces, “How is it possible Republicans did so well when we’re in the tank for the Democrats?” In spite of the best efforts of the MSM, people are staying informed and recognize what’s really going on; maybe not all, but many.
In October, Nikki Haley observed, “Watching the press handle Joe Biden is like watching someone make sure a 3-year-old wins Candyland.” She nailed it. And now that Biden and Harris seem likely to be inaugurated next month, we’re already seeing the bias rise to new levels, if that’s even possible. People want the truth, and they will search for it if necessary. Conservative or even moderate media outlets have a great opportunity.
Parker: I framed the beginning of this conversation around the future of “conservative” media. I wonder if that is part of the problem. I think the term accurately describes our political ideologies – we want to conserve the best aspects of America. Good intentions notwithstanding, the term has unfortunately weathered decades of abuse from political opponents and the media (which is redundant). While I associate our cause with rationality, decency, and American pride, too many unfortunately do not.
If you ask a liberal or a leftist which side is more compassionate, they’ll say themselves. If you ask them about conservativism, and especially if you mention the name Trump, they become triggered and emotionally unstable. The literally think we all support nooses, lynchings, and slavery. Correction: They are not thinking; they simply believe it. There is absolutely no thinking going on, just the regurgitation of nonsense learned in school. To expand on your Candyland quote, I think we have to handle all Biden supporters and voters as three-year-olds.
The Daily Wire is self-identifying as alternative media, and I like that approach. We should not hamstring ourselves and wedge ourselves into a corner by providing the misleading misnomer of conservative to the term media. Our cause is conservatism, but our portrayal of news is simply objectivity and truth telling. PF: Ideally there would only be one type of media – honest media – but that doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon. For that reason, I think the few outlets that are honest have a major advantage, and The Wall Street Journal is a good example. Their news is reported down the middle, and even though their opinion page is conservative, it’s not over-the-top; it’s reasonable. It’s not a coincidence that the WSJ has the second largest circulation in the country next to USA Today, and if one of the major television networks would take a similar approach, earnings would skyrocket. If newcomers entering the market as “alternative media” maintain journalistic integrity, they’ll succeed as well.
We recently debated the legacy of Donald Trump and the degree to which he succeeded in making America great again. One area in which he was remarkably successful was his effort to expose the dishonesty of the mainstream media. They were unfair from the beginning in their coverage of Trump, and as his term progressed, they didn’t even try to hide their partiality. Trump Derangement Syndrome set in, and he pulled away the curtain. I remember when Trump called them “the enemy of the people,” and the media lost their minds. His choice of words made me cringe at the time, like some other things he’s said, but in retrospect it was the perfect phrase. It got people’s attention, and their ongoing treachery was there for all to see.
It will be critical for Americans to stay well-informed during a Biden Administration, and fortunately we have options for our sources of news. If the legacy media outlets continue to treat Biden and his cronies like a 14-year-old experiencing puppy love, it will only open the door that much wider for honest media organizations to fill the void.