As a former conservative activist and journalist, it has been so frustrating to see my former compatriots spreading wild and unchecked claims about "voter fraud." @jacknicas of the NYT took a deep look at claims of "dead" people in Michigan voting. Link in next tweet.
While examining claims made by right-wing activists who are not credible individuals is a thankless task which elite media editors despise, this is vital and important work in this age of fake news. Here's the link: nytimes.com/2020/11/06/tec…
As the co-creator of NewsBusters, the most prominent anti-media website, I was part of a decades-long tradition of complaining about media elites being "unfair" to conservative views. There is still much to that argument, but eventually I saw that I was missing context.
What I did not realize until I began expanding my work into creating actual media and reporting institutions such as the Washington Examiner (I was the founding online editor) was that U.S. conservatives do not understand the purpose of journalism.
This became evident to me as I saw that conservative-dominated media outlets were MUCH more biased than outlets run by liberals. The latter had flaws that arose from a lack of diversities (note plural) but they operated mostly in good faith. That's not how the former operated.
I eventually realized that most people who run right-dominated media outlets see it as their DUTY to be unfair and to favor Republicans because doing so would some how counteract perceived liberal bias.
While I was enmeshed in the conservative media tradition, I viewed lefty media thinkers like @jayrosen_nyu as arguing that journalism was supposed to be liberally biased. I was wrong. I realized later that I didn't understand that journalism is supposed to portray reality.
This thought was phrased memorably by @StephenAtHome as "reality has a well-known liberal bias" which is an oversimplification but is more accurate than the conservative journalist view which is that media should promote and serve conservative politicians.
I also discovered as I rose through the right-wing media ranks that most conservative media figures have no journalism training or desire to fact-check their own side. I also saw so many ppl think that reporting of info negative to GOP pols was biased, even if it was true.
If you would like to get a great look at the tensions and origins of conservative journalism, there is a wonderful, fabulous book by my friend @pastpunditry which I cannot commend enough. My career was an updated version of what she chronicled. amazon.com/Messengers-Rig…
People ask sometimes if conservative media figures like Sean Hannity or anyone associated with the Federalist could actually be so credulous as to believe unfounded and non-specific allegations of "voter fraud." But the reality is that they don't actually even think that far.
Truth for conservative journalists is anything that harms "the left." It doesn't even have to be a fact. Trump's numerous lies about any subject under the sun are thus justified because his deceptions point to a larger truth: that liberals are evil.
This assumption is behind all conservative media output. They never tell you what their actual motives are. Most center-left people don't realize just how radical many conservative elites are, largely because they don't wear it on their sleeves.
Just as a for-instance of this point, most people have no idea that the top two Trump White House figures, Mike Pence and Mark Meadows, think that biological evolution is a lie. rightwingwatch.org/post/exclusive…
This is an extraordinarily dangerous viewpoint in light of the SARS2 coronavirus epidemic because the entirety of virology and epidemiology is based on evolution. If you think it's "fake" then you'll believe ludicrous nonsense like "herd immunity."
The same thing is happening with right-wing media and specious claims of voter fraud. Conservatives are willing to believe them even if there is no evidence, simply because anything negative about liberals is true. This mentality extends to the very highest ranks.
Newt Gingrich, William Bennett, and a bevvy of GOP elected officials have no problem parroting unverified rumors as fact because conservative journalism is not about supporting conservatives, not about finding facts.
I tried for over a decade to inculcate some standards of independence and professionalism among conservative writers but my efforts made me enemies, especially when I argued that the GOP should be neutral on religion instead of biased toward Christians.
I began work on a manuscript in 2012 fearing that Mitt Romney would lose his election because conservatives had not learned how politics actually works and that we should adapt to serve public needs and make peace with secular people.
I showed my manuscript to several people who I thought were my friends because I wanted to get the perspective of religious conservatives. Instead of helping me, some of them began trying to expel me from the conservative movement.
I eventually realized that many conservative activists were committed to identity rather than ideas. One of my friends literally told me in 2016 that he would support Cruz bc "that's what the Christians are doing."
We're at a critical moment in U.S. politics right now because the Christian identity politics that is the edifice of Republican electioneering is teetering. Millions of Americans have for decades thought that their countrymen are evil.
You can watch this play out right now on a television stage when you tune into Fox News as they cover the election. Fact-based journalists have finally realized that the identity rage of the GOP is going into a raging crescendo.
On an hourly basis now outside of the rage-filled lie-fests of primetime, Fox reporters are gently trying to explain to guests that they need actual evidence before accusing people of crimes. The guests, such as Gingrich, have NEVER been challenged like this on Fox.
Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, Martha MacCallum, and others are trying to save conservatism from itself. It's like watching a modern-day adaptation of Aeschylus or Sophocles. Sadly, the rest of us are not just spectators in this tragedy.
How American conservatism dies is the most important story, by far, of this moment. Conventional media will never tell this story because their business is built on the lie that Trump is an aberration rather than apotheosis. That NeverTrump is righteous rather than venal.
At the same time, the tens of millions of people who vote Republican are not deplorable. They are misled. And the mocking and tribalistic coverage that lefty media often engage in only makes things worse. Only love can defeat hate.
I will be undertaking several projects address these and other large subjects including: a memoir of my youth in a fundamentalist Mormon household and a new magazine called Flux that will cover politics, data, sociology, and religion. Please follow to join me!
And just to clarify my point about people who are "misled."

It's the people that Trump referred to when he said "I love the poorly educated." They are the people who work hard, go to church, and feel they have no future in a secular America.

Not the leaders but the led.
Thanks for reading my rant.

If you would to see some of my writing that explores this topic at greater length, here is an older piece I wrote about the vulnerability of "own the libs" conservatism to reaction. washingtonmonthly.com/2019/11/22/the…
Thanks everyone for reading and helping me get the word out!

You might also like a historical essay I wrote a few years ago about racism and "paleolibertarianism."

Religion is the main driver but racism is a factor washingtonpost.com/posteverything…
Thank you all the newcomers to the thread! Welcome ❤️! You might be interested in a followup thread I have going about how Biden can handle reconciliation. It also shows how far-right media are even now claiming that Trump will win:

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More from @mattsheffield

Jan 12,
It looks like after my exposure of John MacArthur denouncing religious freedom went viral, someone at the Daily Wire attempted damage control.

She contacted everyone involved in the controversy 𝒆𝒙𝒄𝒆𝒑𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒎𝒆, and stripped away the context of my critique. Let's discuss
First, here is the Twitter thread that my critique of John MacArthur appeared in. It's about the many ways in which January 6th was a Christian nationalist operation. I talk about JM multiple times with multiple videos, dates, and a source link.
If you go through the thread, you will see that I mention John MacArthur giving three speeches, the first in which he denounces the idea of religious freedom. I give the date for that speech and note that it caused controversy at the time among normal evangelicals a year ago.
Read 16 tweets
Jan 9,
1/x The far-right's decades of religious anti-Americanism was the root of January 6th.

This is a Twitter summary of the latest @TheoryChange show featuring @brucewilson. flux.community/matthew-sheffi…
@TheoryChange @brucewilson It isn't talked about nearly enough that despite the stereotype of flag paraphernalia, reactionary Christians actually hate America.

This is a critical point. Far-right Christians see most other Christians and all non-Christians as not real Americans.
This is a big topic, so Bruce and I used a single person to represent the group, a radical anti-abortion preacher from NC named Ante Pavkovic.

Here's what he thinks of America and other Christians:
Read 20 tweets
Jan 3,
Thread: Charlie Kirk is building a reactionary cult for young people. Do Democratic or progressive leaders care?

This is a summary of my latest @TheoryChange episode featuring @MatthewBoedy.

Watch, listen, or read at the link or continue the thread. flux.community/matthew-sheffi…
As we approach the 1-year anniversary of the January 6th Capitol riot, nothing is more important than understanding that the people who invaded the Capitol were part of something much, much bigger.

American reactionaries have been building out a politico-religious cult.
One of the key people in this is Charlie Kirk, the leader of Turning Point USA, a group that targets young Christians for radicalization.

Though he often says goofy things, Kirk is totally serious about what he's doing. His groups had revenues of over $56 million in 2020.
Read 9 tweets
Jan 2,
GOP donors care immensely about advocacy media & spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on it, in contrast to Dems who spend almost none. Many rw media sites have huge audiences & budgets, even though most ppl don't know them.

I'll update this reference thread periodically
In no particular order, let's start w/the "David Horowitz Freedom Center." It's a rabidly anti-Muslim and often racist org w/annual revenues of nearly $8 mil. Its content is devoted to terrifying elderly Christians & Jews w/elaborate delusions.
Recently, it's been hyping total falsehoods about Christianity becoming illegal and telling Republicans that they're viewed as subhuman by others.
Read 6 tweets
Dec 30, 2021
Please join me later today at 2pm PT / 5pm ET for a live @TheoryChange broadcast with @MatthewBoedy about Charlie Kirk, Christian identity politics, & the GOP youth engagement machine.

YouTube:
FB: streamyard.com/view_on_platfo… Image
@TheoryChange @MatthewBoedy Our conversation will be heavily organized around Matthew's excellent @DiscoverFlux reports about Turning Point USA and Charlie Kirk.

Please check out this one about Kirk's transformation from a conventional young libertarian to a Christian nationalist: flux.community/matthew-boedy/…
This one discusses how Kirk has reoriented TPUSA from shilling for deregulation toward tapping into the billion-dollar Christian identity machine flux.community/matthew-boedy/…
Read 5 tweets
Dec 23, 2021
Thread: The primary weapon of far-right elites is weaponized fundamentalist Christianity. They bombard less-educated fundamentalists with lies so that they don't understand that millions of ppl are center-left Christians.

Right now, they are the Democratic leaders, in fact.
Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are the most powerful Democrats in America. And they are believing Christians.

But because they follow Jesus's admonition to practice faith privately, unlike the Pharisee Republicans, lots of people don't know that Christians are welcome on the left.
But just because devotions shouldn't be flaunted, it doesn't mean that progressive Christians should be silent about their values.

Right now, their voices are critical. One person doing this so well is my friend @MalyndaHale. Please follow her. I'll link her podcast next.
Read 7 tweets

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