There was once a golden age of right wing “Journalism”. They destroyed ACORN with one video. They lowered Hillary Clinton’s approval rating with years of Benghazi. One man, Richard Mellon Scaife, was able to fund years of investigations into Bill Clinton leading to his impeachment. Sure-those investigations were bullshit. But they were all incredibly successful in achieving their fiendish political goals.
Fast forwarding to today, Tucker Carlson was handed thousands of hours of raw video. Tucker was unable to craft any convincing argument that broke out of the Foxlandia ecosystem. Similarly, Elon had all of Twitters resources and the aid of few experienced writers. The twitter files were unable to find anything that broke out the right wing echo chamber.
This story repeats itself with Hunter’s laptop. Everyone has a copy of Hunter’s data these days. There have been zero deep dives showing how Hunter committed crimes worthy of the attention the right has give the laptop story.
Not surprisingly, the GOP “Weaponization” and “Jan 6th” investigations haven’t turned up anything either. Even right wing media is admitting that these investigations are flops.
For years, the right wing style of messaging was to make bold unsupported claims, assume (correctly) that the media can be bullied into repeating it and cry censorship if anyone challenges or checks it. But recently this has stopped working. The bullshit is just not sticking anymore. This complete and total collapse of the ability of the right to conduct any investigation with the goal of having it break from right wing echo chambers to the mainstream is happening in spite of mountains of cash, armies of lawyers and huge audiences of right wing media.
Why did this happen?
Let’s look at this chart:
I’ve wrote about this filter bubble before-this is what it looks like when there is a mainstream and a filter bubble and not what it looks like when you have competing filter bubbles. The right trusts a single source and no others. If you are part of the right wing ecosystem you have an incentive to craft messaging for the Fox audience and only the Fox audience because that is where the eyeballs are. Likewise, if you’re on Fox and looking for eyeballs, what stories do you cover? Something from a source your audience doesn’t trust or one of the many sources that already speaks to your target audience?
So what exactly does this audience want? I think these two cartoons do a good job illustrating.
Fox viewers want to have their biases confirmed. The tune into be told their successes are theirs and their failures are the result of powerful forced that hate them for their patriotism and love of Freedom. It’s easy to call this brainwashing. But in the past few years, the mainstream has given up explaining Fox’s relationship with its audience as brainwashing and have started to describe this as either symbiosis or parasocial. Neither of these seem correct to me. The term co-dependency seems to fit much better.
Consider the Dodo
One hypothesis suggests that flight became unnecessary for ancient birds that colonized habitats without predators, because those birds no longer needed that adaptation to escape. Over time, other traits were favoured by natural selection, and flightlessness was passed on to these birds’ descendants.https://www.britannica.com/animal/flightless-bird
Why read through thousands of pages of documents when, or view thousands of hours of video when your audience is trained to accept everything you say and reject any fact checking as socialism? What purpose does that time and effort serve? None of course. If you know that just repeating a statement over and over will get your audience to act as if it is true, that becomes the most effective use of resources.
Matt Drudge had to get picked up by the mainstream. Same for Project Veritas. And so did all the other right wing hit pieces. TPUSA doesn’t. They can make their money from social media clicks and wing nut welfare from a few billionaire patrons. The same goes for the Daily Caller, Breitbart and all the other right wing journalists.
Let me suggest that without actual debate, without any fact checking and without any external information ever entering the bubble, right wing media has last the ability to work with facts. Without the need to make coherent logically consistent arguments, right wing media is losing this ability. Pardon the dad joke-but they can’t make an argument that flies any more. They’ve become fact-less media in the same way Dodos became flightless birds.