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

30 Nov
National Review's editorial is just the beginning of an avalanche of criticism that Trump will receive once out of office.

GOP elites hated Trump but they were too afraid to oppose him while he had power. This is how conservative media has worked since Bush 41...
Literally without fail since those days, conservative media unfailingly support the top Republican, no matter who it is.

Once he/she loses or retires, then they will actually say what they thought. It's why so few conservative journalists should be on debate shows.
The adulation that Trump received from most right wing sources was the exact same treatment that George W. Bush received when he was in the WH.

Once he left though, suddenly and miraculously, conservative figures somehow figured out he was a terrible president!
Read 18 tweets
29 Nov
It's widely believed that Israel was behind the killing of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. This action fits with the aims of Netanyahu, a close Trump ally who fears greatly a return to the prior Iranian nuke deal & would love to box in Biden. But it could be even more...
It's notable that the killing of Fakhrizadeh took place right around the time that Trump pardoned his ex NSA and staunch Muslim hater, Michael Flynn, who was arrested for lying about backchannel diplomacy before Trump took office in 2017. Could this be a trap for Biden?
The GOP is favored to retain control of the Senate after the GA runoffs, which could give the party a position to investigate Biden's administration for what it does with Iran right now.

Iran is probably going to be the next Benghazi.
Read 7 tweets
27 Nov
The story behind this video that Trump promoted today from his social media guy is Alice in Wonderland stuck in a "Matrix" simulation of "Inception." I wasn't planning a thread today but let's go down the rabbit hole...
So the montage that Scavino or whoever created is based on an initiative from the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group which took place in 2018. The company made a script and forced their anchors to read it in an attempt to criticize the media for being too liberal!
Thus it's the height of Orwellian propaganda for Trump & Scavino to use the clip to attack legit reporters for criticizing his dangerous attempts to undermine America's election system. For a background on the clips, see this from my friend @SophiaTesfaye salon.com/2018/04/01/sin…
Read 11 tweets
25 Nov
Conservatives love to complain that everyone is against them: professors, journalists, intelligence officers, social media companies, and so on.

I used to as well until I considered that maybe having problems with everyone else isn't their fault, it's yours.
I was reminded of that realization when I read this important NYT article about how Facebook keeps weakening news source quality controls because conservative content gets disproportionately effected by them. nytimes.com/2020/11/24/tec…
Unfortunately, this great piece of reporting by @MikeIsaac, @sheeraf, & @kevinroose didn't mention the greatest challenge in AI news signal processing: Humans can barely separate conservative & far-right content. Which means computers can't either.
Read 17 tweets
23 Nov
Townhall, one of the top supposedly mainstream conservative websites, is running an article claiming that Trump could've gotten 100 million votes, were it not for Dominion and the evil media.

This mentality is why it took so long to rein in Sidney Powell. Image
We'll see if it sticks, but the Sidney Powell distancing is actually the best indicator for a way forward against insane right wing media: tougher defamation laws.

A revived Fairness Doctrine will fail in court but better defamation laws will not. Powell's charges are slander.
Despite his raging about "fake news media" reports, Trump has actually been the biggest beneficiary of the US's laxer laws about defamation.

Far right media benefits from this even more. Public figures currently don't have many protections that private ppl do.
Read 6 tweets
20 Nov
Conservative media outlets utterly set the agenda for their audience. Trump keeps losing his ridiculous suits and is now trying to pressure state officials to throw voters' wishes away. So naturally, rw media is just ignoring the story. Here's Townhall: Image
Over at Fox News, for the second day in a row, Gavin Newsom is the lead story of the day Image
At Breitbart, Barack Obama is the lead story Image
Read 6 tweets

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