Conor Friedersdorf discusses conservative media!


And the millions they just disinformed: For our money, Conor Friedersdorf’s post at Atlantic is the most significant post of the day.

By far!

Friedersdorf isn’t a lefty or a liberal. He’s a person with a strong message for the many disinformed people of the conservative world:
FRIEDERSDORF (11/7/12): Before rank-and-file conservatives ask, "What went wrong?", they should ask themselves a question every bit as important: "Why were we the last to realize that things were going wrong for us?"

Barack Obama just trounced a Republican opponent for the second time. But unlike four years ago, when most conservatives saw it coming, Tuesday's result was, for them, an unpleasant surprise. So many on the right had predicted a Mitt Romney victory, or even a blowout—Dick Morris, George Will, and Michael Barone all predicted the GOP would break 300 electoral votes. Joe Scarborough scoffed at the notion that the election was anything other than a toss-up. Peggy Noonan insisted that those predicting an Obama victory were ignoring the world around them. Even Karl Rove, supposed political genius, missed the bulls-eye. These voices drove the coverage on Fox News, talk radio, the Drudge Report, and conservative blogs.

Those audiences were misinformed.
Friedersdorf uses the word “misinformed.” We will go with the stronger term, the one which begins with a d. A bit later, he poses a very good question to the conservative rank-and-file:
FRIEDERSDORF: If you're a rank-and-file conservative, you're probably ready to acknowledge that ideologically friendly media didn't accurately inform you about Election 2012. Some pundits engaged in wishful thing; others feigned confidence in hopes that it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy; still others decided it was smart to keep telling right-leaning audiences what they wanted to hear.

But guess what?

You haven't just been misinformed about the horse race. Since the very beginning of the election cycle, conservative media has been failing you. With a few exceptions, they haven't tried to rigorously tell you the truth, or even to bring you intellectually honest opinion. What they've done instead helps to explain why the right failed to triumph in a very winnable election.

Why do you keep putting up with it?
The absurd predictions which emerged from Fox have created a potential crisis in the conservative world. Near the end of his piece, Friedersdorf makes a punishing observation, then says what ought to happen:
FRIEDERSDORF: On the biggest political story of the year, the conservative media just got its ass handed to it by the mainstream media. And movement conservatives, who believe the MSM is more biased and less rigorous than their alternatives, have no way to explain how their trusted outlets got it wrong, while the New York Times got it right. Hint: The Times hired the most rigorous forecaster it could find.

It ought to be an eye-opening moment.
According to Friredersdorf, conservatives’ eyes should pop wide open about operations like Fox. But Friedersdorf says he thinks this moment will pass:

“I expect that it'll be quickly forgotten,” he writes. “...that the right will continue to operate at an information disadvantage.”

That’s certainly possible, but this is a valuable teachable moment. What Fox kept saying was clownishly wrong—and the whole shebang just isn’t complex or confusing.

Conservative viewers got disinformed in a highly transparent way. In our view, smart progressives would look for ways to help conservatives and moderates see this.

Your lizard brain will tell you this can't be done. We urge you to rein in your lizard.

Update: For Kevin Drum's take on the very same post, just click here.

Our capsule: Kevin predicts. We prescribe.


  1. "In our view, smart progressives would look for ways to help conservatives and moderates see this."

    Sure, but how about tossing out a few ideas to get the discussion started?

    P.S. It has zero to do with lizard brains, but with actual experience with people who either directly or indirectly get their ideas from Fox and friends. So many of them simply do not like Obama, and a little calm persuasion ain't going to do diddly-shit to change that.

  2. Bob's prescription:

    " progressives would look for ways to help conservatives and moderates see this."

    And moderates? In today's GOP?

    Also, it's pretty tough to help those whose political beliefs are so fact-averse to see how they are being misled by their own echo chamber.

    Perhaps you, as opposed to your syncophant commentators, can offer some suggestions to overcome what appears to be an insurmountable problem.

    1. Yes, it is tough (maybe impossible) to persuade a dittohead, but not every Republican is a dittohead.

    2. Anonymous (The Idiot)November 8, 2012 at 7:44 AM

      Mysterion, you sycophant!

    3. "And moderates? In today's GOP?"

      Exactly. Ask Dick Lugar and Chris Shays how much of a chance "moderate" Repubicans have these days.

      Even the Mittster had to become "severely conservative" and chum around with Sheriff Joe to win the GOP nomination, which cost him dearly in the general election.

    4. Lugar was moderate in tone, but not substance.

  3. Dick Morris, George Will, Michael Barone, Peggy Noonan.

    Got the fools, now where's the ship?

  4. I completely understand Somerby's point. Republicans are by-and-large shocked. Supporting Somerby's point, I think Obama had been so discredited in their own circles they did not imagine such a loser could win reelection.

    But it is not clear to me how to turn this into a teachable moment. Some examples.

    In 1996 the Republicans were after Clinton like baying hounds closing in on a rabbit. After four years of ginned up fake scandals, everything from allegedly murdering Vince Foster to misuse of the Christmas card list, they knew in their kishkes that Clinton was thoroughly discredited.

    Then Clinton won.

    A mere two years later they had just impeached Clinton after saturating the country with boatloads more dirt. Surely nobody in their right minds would support the president after all that!

    But the Republicans took a drumming, losing seats in the off-year election. This time they had the good sense to shake up their leadership, but realistically not much changed.

    In 2003 the American invaders of Iraq were not welcomed by by the predicted flower-strewing children and cheering multitudes. The weapons of mass destruction were never found. The road to peace in the middle east did not run through Baghdad. But the conservative movement seems neither shocked nor awed by its own manifest blindless. Instead some of the very same people are pushing for an even more misguided war with Iran.

    Reality sometimes barges in. But I don't see a movement to assess their own news apparatus, to figure out why and how it was all wrong. Just like devoted listeners to some of those MSNBC bloviating shows, the conservative audience will pay to hear that which bolsters its own beliefs.

  5. Fine to warn liberals and leftists not to live in an echo chamber, to seek accurate information and fair assessments.

    Who says most of them don't already do that? I, at least, don't know any frequent attenders to Rachel Maddow et al. who could be called her ditto-heads.

    I appreciate Mr. Somerby's main point here but think it is undermined by his being afflicted with his own false equivalency problem here.

    1. "I don't know any frequent attenders to Rachel Maddow who could be called her ditto-heads."

      Well, bully for you. Get out more.

      I know several.

      They are in fact her ditto heads. You cannot contradict Maddow in their presence, without their taking it as a personal attack, causing them to froth and foam as much as any rabid Limbaughphile you can imagine.

      The point isn't undermined by a false equivilancy problem -- it's strengthened by the fact that there is a real equivalency.

  6. Kinda like how Pelosi said in 2010, and 2012, that Ds would hold/win a majority in the House, predictions also echoed throughout the sympathetic media.

    It's tribalism. Not news.

  7. just to say; i have followed this site for many many years. the only reason i remain a fan is because here i tend to find evidenced based reasoning in a world of spin and guff. you manage to maintain a very high standard, and frequently novel insight. best of luck from across the Pond,


  8. "In our view, smart progressives would look for ways to help conservatives and moderates see this.

    No way, Jose!

    Why would I encourage Republicans to work harder for their candidates? Let them blunder about in their Bizarro world.

    In other blogs, I never challenged the smug confidence of Obamaphobes, and never consoled Obamaphiles. I wanted Republicans to kick back and Democrats to work

    Arizona doesn't look so good for Democrats, but Kirkpatrick and Barber are only a few hundred votes away from their competitors, and there a over 600,000 provisional ballots yet uncounted, and most of these are from Latinos, other minorities, and first time voters, all considered to be inclined to vote for Obama and other Democrats.

    (What a coincidence that the same people that were targeted by the photo ID laws discovered there were errors in their registration records as well. The Arizona Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, the same shithead that said he would keep Obama off the ballot if Hawaii didn't send him a birth certificate, was at a loss to explain why so many weren't correctly entered in the rosters. Go figure.)

    There are also tens of thousands of mail-in ballots, and Democrats get the advantage there.

    The results are NOT in for Arizona.

  9. So let me get this right: Some Fox pundits get the Election Day turnout model wrong and, because of that, Fox has always been misinforming their viewers about everything? That's quite a leap. The fact is that all of the incorrect predictors, including Barone, Rove, and even Morris, specifically qualified their predictions by clearly stating their assumptions and also stating that if their turnout assumptions were wrong, their predictions would be wrong. Every one of them said that. So they all got the turnout model wrong and their predictions were wrong. Big deal! How, exactly does that translate into Fox always misinforming those low-information conservatives about every issue? This is the most significant post of the day? What's happened to this site?

    1. Exactly how did Morris "qualify" a prediction of a Romney landslide? By claiming the poll models could be right? When did he, or any of them, ever say that?

      In fact, they were claiming that the poll models were absolutely WRONG, and they didn't qualify that one bit.

  10. Anonymous @ 7:27AM:

    That's not correct. All three (Barone, Rove, and Morris) stated specifically on the shows where they made their predictions that those predictions were based on the assumption that Democratic turnout was going to be lower than 2008 due to disillusionment with Obama, etc., and that Republican turnout was going to be higher than 2008 due to dislike of Obama policies like ACA and debt. They all stated that when they made their predictions, and also that Obama would win if their assumptions were wrong. Look at the transcripts; this is just a fact. So their assumptions turned out to be wrong and consequently, their predictions. That's not misinforming viewers about this issue and it certainly doesn't further the argument that Fox misinforms its viewers about everything. I don't claim Fox to be perfect in this regard, but I would disagree that this particular case was misinformation and that they misinform about every issue. Potential cases of misinformation should be presented and discussed individually. This is not one of them.

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