If you’ve ever gotten into an online “discussion” with a member of the right wing, you may have been subjected to what is sometimes called link spam. This happens when you, a well-rounded individual who gets your news from numerous sources, use facts to back up a statement. Whether it’s climate change, or debunking the abortion causes breast cancer myth, or challenging some Fox News pundit, if you use facts, someone on the right will attempt to argue with you using right-wing propaganda. This was proven to me on Saturday morning, when a friend shared a post from Sean Hannity’s Facebook page.
As you may know, DISH Network and Fox came to an agreement, and Fox News and Fox Business are back on the teevee for DISH customers. Sean Hannity popped onto Facebook to crow about the victory, with a cute photo of himself, and an edict to his fans:
Share the news – Hannity is back on DISH! Join us tonight, and every weeknight, at 10p ET!
Share the news! Go forth and trumpet Hannity’s return to DISH! The man who was voted as the worst cable news host by other cable news hosts wants everyone to join him at 10P(M), because we don’t have enough ignorant people in America. In the comment thread, a woman named Mercedes and a woman named Carolyn got into a bit of a brouhaha, with Carolyn attempting to gently point out that Sean Hannity is not an actual journalist, and Mercedes not-so-gently responding. With right-wing propaganda link spam about Al Sharpton.
This link spam came from exclusively conservative websites, “news” organizations, and right wing publications. Nothing from BBC, Associated Press, Reuters, The Guardian, nothing from anything even close to a reputable source. The link spam Mercedes posted to bolster her arguments included:
*The New York Post, a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch. Who coincidentally owns Fox.
*Newsmax, a very conservative media company, known for selling fear next to ads for gold.
*Chicks On The Right, who claim to be the “new face” of conservative feminism, and who wrote a fascinating article on why they are that new face.
*Allen West, failed presidential candidate, and former employer of this charming woman.
*World Net Daily. Disclaimer: For many years, I thought Weekly World News and World Net Daily were the same rag. I was very confused as to why so many conservatives were quoting from a tabloid that claimed to have found “Bat Boy.” WND, as it’s more frequently called, is actually famous for their non-stop yammering about President Obama’s birth certificate. WND has an entry on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. Winning?
*Breitbart.com, founded by Andrew Breitbart, whose rhetoric was so virulent, he got yanked off Huffington Post’s front page in 2011. Breitbart.com is well-known for publishing ethically challenged articles, and standing by them.
*TPNN, or The Tea Party News Network. This place is a hot mess of click bait, misleading headlines, and the typical drivel so many conservatives read and watch.
There was so much more link spam shared by Mercedes, but Carolyn just gave up. Who wouldn’t, when the person with whom you are trying to have a discussion is so firmly entrenched in the right wing information bubble?
Are there any reputable conservative news sources available? And I mean news, not blogs, or oped sites, actual news. Well, not really. Shep Smith on Fox does fairly well once in awhile, as does Chris Wallace. Sometimes the Wall Street Journal tiptoes towards the middle. Forbes is iffy, only because the “liberal” articles are frequently relegated to their blog, where my cat could probably get something published.
Erin, you may be shouting, you write for a progressive website, and I bet you get your news from left wing sources, so HYPOCRISY! Except, no. I write for a website that frequently takes on idiocy from both sides, and I get my news from BBC America, Associated Press, Reuters, various newspapers and publications, and yes, I even visit right wing sites. There’s no such thing as “liberal media.” What many conservatives think of as “liberal media” is simply fact-based reporting, or debunking of sites like WND, Breitbart, Newsmax, etc.
This doesn’t mean that MSNBC does not lean left; of course it does. However, setting aside Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton for a moment, take a look at Rachel Maddow. This woman is a Rhodes scholar, has a doctorate in Political Science from Oxford, her show on MSNBC has won an Emmy, and in 2009, The Rachel Maddow Show was named one of the top shows of the decade by The Washington Post. Now if you ask me “Who would you rather get your news from-Martha MacCallum or Rachel Maddow?”, I’m going to choose Dr. Maddow. But when I do that, I understand I may get my facts with a liberal bias. Because, and this is hard for a lot of folks on the right to understand, facts and truth have a liberal bias.
Yes, I’m a liberal. I also, even though I am not a journalist, hold myself to an ethical standard. An ethical standard lost somewhere in the quagmire that is conservative “news.” Yes, there are liberal clickbait propaganda sources without ethical standards also, but they’re not on national television or quoted as sources by real liberal journalists.
Remember the Obama India Trip fiasco? Michele Bachmann went on CNN, and repeated some insane lie from an Indian blog about the cost of President Obama’s trip to India. According to her numbers, his trip would cost $200 million a day. But did it ever occur to anyone on the right propagating this outrageous lie to fact-check it? Nope. They knew this was red meat for their base-the uppity urban (translation-black) president was spending too much of our (translation-white people) money.
There is a right-wing propaganda bubble, making money hand over fist preying on the fears of angry conservatives. Fear of the “other,” whether the other is African American, Hispanic, LGBT, Atheist, Muslim, liberal, progressive, whatever. The other is scary, the other is coming to take your guns/recruit your kids/put you in a FEMA camp/destroy America. Which is a lie. A very profitable lie.