Recycled Confirmation Bias Does Nothing to Further the Progressive Movement – Stop Rewarding It

Bill-OReillyOver and over again, I see opinion pieces thinly disguised as news stories with titles like “The GOP’s SHOCKING problem with racism” or “You won’t believe what this GOP congressman said about minorities! (VIDEO).” Go to Reddit, Facebook and anywhere else and you’ll be inevitably deluged with this flood of recycled news stories from a variety of websites that claim to be liberal or progressive – but the only issue they’re truly “progressive” on is growing their bank account through whatever means possible.

Look folks, we get it. Pretty much everyone on the left and even the middle has grasped the fact that the Republican Party tries to portray itself as being the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower, when in fact they wouldn’t even vote for Ronald “Trickle-Down” Reagan if he was running today. I don’t think there are many people left in this country who aren’t aware of the fact racism, ignorance, xenophobia and misogyny are tolerated by the establishment wing catered to by the fringe politicians. The people who still vote for them are either rich and they don’t care, or they’re poor and they don’t care since we’re sending Obama and the UN black helicopter ninjas to take their guns away and indoctrinate their kids – because that’s what some looney conservative website told them.

Barring some incredible change of heart, I don’t think there are too many voters out there who are going to change their beliefs, and they’re just going to wave off recycled outrage stories as just “more liberal garbage”. You know what? I don’t exactly blame them. As progressives and liberals, we do a damn fine job of preaching to the choir as the saying goes. We have too many people (on both sides of the spectrum) redoing the same old story with just a few changes to the format, recycling the same memes and pretending it’s something new and fresh. Or better yet, posting a quick video clip from C-SPAN or Fox News onto their own “liberal news” site with only a sentence or two to introduce it. Why? Because it’s easy, it doesn’t require much original thought and it sells.

If we are going to change hearts and minds, it’s not going to be by simply bashing people over the head with the same old tired talking points and articles through social media or in person. For every argument, they’ve heard as many or more rebuttals and it’s been drilled into their heads repeatedly. You’re not going to change the mind of your uncle who drives a 20 year old car, works a dead end job and still somehow believes the GOP has his best interests at heart by posting the same tired meme about class warfare. You may never change the heart of your homophobic mother who happens to have a gay son, but I can guarantee you that trying to get her to read a recycled article with a shock headline from some hard-left site will definitely not accomplish that.

As much as we talk about how Republicans run a party of tired old ideas, we need to make sure we don’t fall into the same trap they did. We need to avoid the social media circle jerk of talking about how bad the other side is and start explaining to people how progressive policies will make their lives better. There’s a fair amount of money to be made off just talking about how great Rachel Maddow is and how horrible Rand Paul is, or how “Bernie Sanders just OWNED Wall Street executives in an EPIC rant,” but other than putting some easy money in the pockets of these bloggers, what does that really accomplish? Did that really change any hearts and minds? Did that get a homeless veteran still suffering from PTSD a decade later the help he or she needs? Did that help the single mother who doesn’t have the money to get to the next payday because Wal-Mart put the local store she worked at out of business?

There are important local, state and federal elections coming up over the next few years and simply just talking about what Rachel Maddow or John Fugelsang said, or how Rush Limbaugh is a racist and how Fox News is totally full of crap isn’t going to turn red states blue. It’s fine to talk about what’s going on (preferably with some originality and effort put into how you present your case), but we need more action. We need less sensationalism and more analysis, less preaching and more thoughtful explaining – otherwise we’re no better than they are. Sadly, there are some in the “liberal news” world who would rather not acknowledge this or act on it and change the way they do business – but that doesn’t mean you have to reward their laziness by continuing to give them the easy views they crave.


Facebook comments

  • J-Way

    Right on. If you get your news in a feedback loop of self-perpetuating bias then you’re no better than the Fox News viewers who KNEW that Romney was running away with the 2012 elections or who KNEW that Obama was on his way out because of all the “scandals”. Also, you are no better than the MSNBC viewers who KNEW that the majority of the US wanted the renewed Assault Weapons Ban to pass or who KNEW that Zimmerman was a racist bigot who intentionally ignored police orders, stalked Martin maliciously, and murdered him in cold blood.

    Watch/listen to/read neutral channels/radio shows/sites from time to time to get the real news. Incidentally, if you think that channels like CNN are blatantly biased (in either direction), then you really need to step back and take a long look at your level of personal bias.

    • L. Marie

      Or watch a little bit of both. The truth is always somewhere in the middle of Fox News and MSNBC.

  • You’ve done some quality work, my friend, and this here is the qualitiest.

  • Jayson

    Irony is reading this article with two ads inserted into the middle of it, on a website that does exactly what this article claims to abhor.

    • The ads on this site help defray the costs of running it. If you think anybody is getting rich off it, you’re sadly mistaken.

  • N8

    I think you’re partially right. This self-congratulatory attidtude about how us liberals are so much smarter than the right, or the conservatives, or how we’re more educated or what not plays right into their ideas that 1) We’re elitist, 2) We’re arrogant jerks 3) We’re as bad as the worst of them.

    I think we should be riding the high road, we should go into debates and discussions discussing facts, statistics and studies, not name calling, not being petty, not riding in on our high horses. If you want to convince people don’t be an ass. You get more bees with honey and here’s the thing, if you talk to a conservative and you are polite, well reasoned, and resist ad-hominem attacks you’re still likely to at the very most convince .0000001% of those people of anything resembling agreeing with you. However the people who are on the fence, the ones reading this with an actual open mind are more likely to listen, and see how you handle yourself, and what information you bring to the table, and with the comparison of your character and behaviour are far more likely to think harshly of attacks on the other side. Be the better person in these discussions, and in these articles. Give solid information, give sourced facts, to equip people with poignant things to say when they’re in these situations. That’s how we win people over, and that’s how we stay non-complacent, and that’s how we remain kind.

    • Quad

      The unfortunate truth is that the only way to get people’s attention is with hyperbole. Whether they’re quoting Rush or Rachel or putting shelters in Oklahoma schools, reason and reasoned arguments are not heeded. Just hyperbole. And that is as much an issue for the left as it is for the right.

      • N8

        I think that’s true of people in large groups, and people who aren’t all that informed in the political process, but I know for myself that it all starts to simply sound like propaganda and I begin to be less involved, and less swayed when I take 2 seconds to research some hyperbole and I find out it’s been blown out of proportion one way or another. This hyperbole is exactly what people are fed up with when it comes to the media, those on the right and the left.

    • fairandbalanced2013

      But you should present the facts over and over to the fence amount of talking facts to the tea party is going to change a thing..but getting the insanity of the GOP out there is important

      • N8

        I understand what you’re saying, but it’s very often that we’re not debating within the bubble of only tea party people. The fence dwellers are reading the interactions we have with Tea Party members and if you’re going to engage the tea party members it’s best to be reasonable, be polite, and stick to facts. The person you’re arguing with isn’t likely to be swayed but other people will read what you’ve written and you have a chance to stand as a comparison, meaning being informed, and polite will showcase their misinformation and their rudeness.

    • Owen

      Problem is, when you go into a debate with facts, statistics, figures, and logic, the other party tends not to believe in facts, statistics, figures, and logic.

      • N8

        Lol, Isn’t that the truth, but again I think the idea isn’t to convince the person you’re directly arguing with, that person is likely to never agree with you. The idea is to be persuasive to the people who will read the arguments as a 3rd party, who do not have the visceral attachment to their viewpoint. If two people are arguing which is better on something I don’t have an outright opinion on and person X is calling person Y names, while person Y is simply stating statistics, facts, etc, I tend to have a gut reaction to trust person Y and explore their points more than person X. If that makes sense.

  • dtsinidaho

    There should be only ONE question asked of a politician. It needs to be asked again and again and again until it is answered. “What is YOUR plan” Not a party, not a book.. but their individual plan for their, City, County, State or Federal position they are running for. Do not take spin, do not take redirection. Keep asking.. WHAT IS YOUR PLAN!!!. then vote.

  • DrDon

    Oh, man, this is soooo true. We need to hammer home what is GOOD about the progressive agenda, not just keep regurgitating the absurdities of the Far Right. (And Jayson I am glad I use Firefox with AdBlockPlus so I don’t have to see the ads, I just get large blank spaces. Corporate censorship? No, censorship of corporations. Fine w/me.

  • pennyson349

    I once thought as the author of his story does that everyone already knows some particular story then I noticed that only the stories that stayed in the news cycle for an extended period of time were remembered by voters I spoke with on election day I believed everyone got it before we re-elected Nixon,Reagan and “W” I was wrong all three times That was before the age of Social Media so maybe all that has or will change but I haven’t seen any evidence of enlightenment so far

  • Edward Kirby

    “If we are going to change hearts and minds, it’s not going to be by simply bashing people over the head with the same old tired talking points and articles through social media or in person.”

    At this point, you are not likely to change any minds. Both sides are relatively locked in. What matters more than anything is getting voters on the other side to give up, throw their hands in the air, and stay at home on Election Day. Posting these stories up are the grass roots version of negative ads. I don’t know the stats, but I’d guess they are as effective as paid political ads, and the candidate your chosen political party doesn’t have to suck off as many lobbyists to pay for it, because they are free.

    Now, we can always discuss issues on which there is a possibility of the two sides compromising or coming to some sort of agreement; right? Well, to paraphrase George Carlin, all that means is that the people are getting screwed even deeper than we usually are.

  • Sheila Kotze

    The problem is, people are lazy, stuck in their ways..or just don’t care. The GOP know most people don’t want to research and find facts for both sides. They want a quik news, and for some.. that just means reading headlines. Instead of shining so much light on the negative of the GOP.. there needs to just be articles about the good of the Dems.. (or vice versa) which ever way,,. People don’t want to see they are wrong or backing the wrong pony because it’s shoved down their throats. If they are stuck on one side or the other, constant ugly stories about their side only pisses them off. If they are going to change, they want to feel they did it on their own for liking something more on one side than the other. If you put out good things for one side.. most likely, people will also look at the other side to see if it is the same or true or whatever. And that’s what people need to do. People tend to just feed themselves from one source. They need to be made to look at both sides.