Rightwing Media and the Election

A couple of interesting articles I read over the past few days:

  • Fox News’ dark night of the soul – Andrew O’Hehir apparently got the assignment of watching Fox News’ coverage on election night and cataloging what took place. Sounds… awesome.
  • How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File – Conor Friedersdorf on how Nate Silver and his ilk at actual news outfits reported the race honestly and accurately, while those in the echo chamber pushed happy-gas and ended up shocked — shocked! — to find out that those egghead number-crunchers were better at predicting a complex phenomenon than they were.

So: The lesson of the day is that some experts actually know what they’re talking about, and a good way to tell them from those who don’t is to ask how they know what they know. Also, epistemic closure is a poor substitute for knowing statistics and consciously seeking to minimize bias.

25 Responses to “Rightwing Media and the Election”

  1. NorthernLite Says:

    Republicans have created this bubble in which they reside. An alternate reality where they keep telling themselves things that simply aren’t true over and over to the point where it’s gospel to them.

    Just look at the reaction to Obama winning: Anyone who looked at the numbers from a mathematical standpoint (i.e. Nate Silver) could see Obama was poised for a crushing defeat. Silver was called vile and disgusting things by conservatives for using a science-based approach to polling. Karl Rove is called a political genius for being a loaf of ham in a suit that just wasted $400 million dollars of other people’s money. Silver predicted all 50 states correctly. Rove was wrong all over the place.

    For weeks on Fox News, Rush and all the conservative media all you would hear is that Romney will win in a landslide. He will crush Obama. Blah, blah, blah. For many people on the right that is their only source of news. They start believing the crap that they’re hearing day in and day out even though it is 100% verifiably wrong. So when reality finally shows up at the doorstep they’re like “what?! I don’t believe this!” when in fact the outcome was obvious to anyone looking at the facts.

    Same with healthcare, only in an alternate reality was Obamacare going to “ruin the best healthcare system on the world” – which is actually ranked 32nd or something like that and not nearly the best. But you’ve told yourselves it was the best over and over and over again to the point where you’re complexly convinced of it even though the facts say you are wrong.

    The right-wing has enclosed themselves in a bubble of alternate reality.

    Your loss has nothing to do with storms or not being conservative enough.

    It has much to do with nominating a candidate who made millions bankrupting companies, killing American jobs, hiding money overseas, not releasing his tax returns and then listening to media that constantly tells you that none of that matters.

  2. shcb Says:

    You guys are right, we have been kidding ourselves for years, this election confirms the death of America. Socialism has killed it. The only question is what do we call the new reality that once was a proud and powerful country because we shouldn’t call it America anymore, that is just wrong.

  3. enkidu Says:

    It isn’t misinformation: it’s malinformation.
    Intentionally skewed opinion masquerading as fact. It’s bullshit.

    poor shcb has a sad
    sociamalism! hurf durf

    I suggest you grab that steamer to Somalia post haste. You can call your new conservative paradise of zero government whatever you like. Confederate States of America worked before, mb you should just go with that. I am sure it would be a popular choice amongst your fellow travelers. Top up your ammo stores before you disembark. Note that when you sew your flag on your backpack, make sure it’s the johnny reb CSA battle flag and not our stars and bars. We are the United States of America ricky, the golden door is always open. Just go Galt asap. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya. buh bye! bon voyagee! (hehehe whadda maroon)

    NL, I think the storm did have something to do with the election: it showed the difference in the approaches of the two sides. One side marshaled our resources and moved with alacrity to bring succor to storm victims. Quite the contrast with the other side: shrub’s “heck of a job, Brownie!” while thousands died and we lost a great American city. And the Romney campaign? They held a canned food drive which the Red Cross asked them not to do (it just slows things down, they need pallets of infant formula, beans and biscuits, bottled water and diapers, not dented cans and an old sweater). Romney’s every man for himself approach just doesn’t seem as appealing when the shit hits the fan and you need to count on competent government.

    Hold on, I can hear Moon Emperor Gingrich on the Freedumfone announcing a new program for colonists: forty acres and a flash frozen mule for every settler. Go Galt!

  4. jbc Says:

    shcb, I don’t think you’re agreeing with what either NorthernLite or I said (and those are two different things you probably couldn’t agree with simultaneously anyway). But enjoy snarking about the dark dystopia into which the majority of the electoral college has delivered the country, or (maybe?) sincerely decrying the end of all that is True and Good, whichever of those two things you were actually trying to convey.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, there are actual problems to solve, and intelligent conservatives could make an actual contribution to solving them. But first they would have to be willing to stop believing carnival hucksters and bring some actual facts and reason to the discussion.

  5. knarlyknight Says:

    What I fail to understand shcb is how, exactly, would it have been better to elect the man who, to give but one example, has such a dearth of principles as to spend his earlier career dismantling American companies and shipping the jobs oversees?

  6. NorthernLite Says:

    And I’ve noticed since Tuesday that “Bengazi-gate” is completely missing from Fox News’ homepage and top stories where it resided for a good month.

    No, that witchhunt wasn’t political at all. Nothing to do with politics. Nope.

  7. shcb Says:

    “Meanwhile, in the real world, there are actual problems to solve, and intelligent conservatives could make an actual contribution to solving them.”

    Give me an example of how conservatives can help solve a problem without becoming just another Euro socialist. This isn’t just us, the rest of the western world has been falling into the socialist’s hands for decades now, we were just the last holdout.

    “…which the majority of the electoral college has delivered the country” that is what is so depressing, before it always seemed we could eventually win, or at least hold our own to keep America great, but the evil of socialism has so taken over a few key areas of our life, education being the worst, that I fear there is no hope. Congratulations, you won. Now what are you going to do to fix these problems of which you speak, there isn’t much conservatives can do to help, it’s up to socialism to make us great again, if you can pull it off it will be the first time in history.

    Knarly, it isn’t the election of the man, it is that Obama is so bad and even he was elected with so great a margin after failing so. Socialists have so taken over strategic areas of our lives that people will vote for the worst candidate maybe ever for the problems of the time rather than give up the handouts. Without a great America your country will suffer too. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and socialize this world to prosperity!

  8. enkidu Says:

    shorter shcb: socialism!

    Expect nothing but road blocks and insurrection from the right wing. The lunatics appear to have taken over entirely. Nothing was learned. We’ll see if wiser heads prevail, I doubt it.

  9. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb – “Socialism!” My arse.

    shcb and other wwnj’s are simply victims of extremist right wing propaganda:

  10. shcb Says:

    We won the house fair and square, it is our right to block what we wish, if you want your agenda to go through you need to compronise, we don’t want to look like we are obstructing so we want to compromise too, we need to be reelected in two years. But you have to remember the house is mostly local politics, the presidency national, so we don’t care so much about Obama’s grand scheme.

  11. knarlyknight Says:

    He’s back.

  12. jbc Says:

    shcb, it sounds like you really are distressed about the outcome of the election, for which you have my sympathy. I will never forget how crushed I felt after the 2004 election. First I convinced myself there was no possible way George W. Bush could be re-elected after what he’d done during his first term, and then I watched that exact scenario come to pass, such that I had Four. More. Years. to endure. So I think I have some understanding of how awful you might be feeling about this, even if (obviously) I don’t share your feelings about this particular outcome. Also, I appreciate your willingness to stop being snarky and actually express what your real views are.

    There are a few things I want to say in response to your last few comments. I don’t expect you to necessarily find them compelling, but they’re all I’ve got at the moment.

    1) I think you should give serious thought to shifting at least some of your personal information sources away from the ones that have convinced you that Obama = Socialism (and, presumably, that led you to expect a different result in this election). I’m not saying you need to start consuming lefty sources (though obviously you do at least some of that already, because otherwise you wouldn’t be here). But even among sources you find ideologically congenial, I encourage you to dump some of those that got this election so wrong, and look for replacements whose ability to successfully predict what happened here show them to be better investments of your time and attention.

    2) I don’t really understand what you mean by socialism. When Sarah Palin and her ilk started making loud noises about how Obama was a socialist during the 2008 campaign, and then continued to talk that way for the last four years, I pretty much laughed because it’s so obviously uninformed. I’ve studied political theory. In a college education that didn’t really equip me very well for anything else, I did study that. I spent four years studying the nature of socialism (along with the rest of the political theory curriculum), at a university whose political science program is actually fairly well thought of, nationally.

    I’m not expecting you to grant my undergrad degree much respect. But you should realize that when you’ve studied something at the college level for four years, basic definitions (“what is socialism?”) are sort of the very beginning of what you study. You then go on to spend years investigating the history of political thought that references socialism, looking at it from multiple perspectives (from capitalist to Marxist and everything in between). You look at the history of who thought what at different times, what’s been written, what countries have instituted what versions of the theory, what happened to them, how the definition changed over time, and so on.

    From that perspective, Sarah Palin saying “Obama is a socialist who wants to turn the US into a socialist country” is ridiculous. Honestly, it’s completely self-evident that she doesn’t have any fucking idea what she’s talking about. There are things she doesn’t like about what Obama is doing, sure. And I’m sure there are plenty of things about actual socialism that she wouldn’t like either, if she actually knew what it was. But for her to stick the two things in the same box in order to try to score political points makes her sound like an ignoramus. Because that’s what she is.

    Why Obama != socialism: The means of production in the U.S. remain quite firmly in private hands. Levels of taxation in the U.S. are not only really low by global standards, they’re low by historical U.S. standards. More than any other major Western (or for that matter non-Western) power, the U.S., even after four years of Obama, and by any reasonable extrapolation after the four years of him to come, remains pretty much the least socialist country around. It just is. So whatever it is you don’t like about Obama’s policies, you’re not calling it by a name that makes sense to anyone who knows even a little bit about what the word socialism actually refers to.

    The social-contract stuff Obama has pursued (Obamacare, preservation of some New Deal-era entitlements) are not socialism. They are pretty much the bare minimum of what any modern industrialized nation has instituted in terms of providing a collective response to the well-understood problems of industrial societies. We have child labor laws, yes. We have work-week restrictions. We have occupational health and safety laws. And now, thank God, we have the beginning of a national healthcare policy that is nevertheless private-sector based, and was planned specifically to include sops to protect the economic interests of every major private sector component (physicians, hospitals, drug companies, and insurance companies). A policy that really is, by any fair analysis, a Republican plan (at least as of 10 or 15 years ago) chosen specifically to avoid pushing the country too far, too fast, in a direction that conservatives would find ideologically repellant.

    That doesn’t mean we live in a socialist country. It means we live in the 21st century. The experiment that your words would seem to be calling for, the kind of country that someone taking your position would be expected to create if he had godlike power, is an experiment that the world has already tried. And it was a failure. It was horrible. That’s why we don’t run things like that any more, any more than we try to cure infectious diseases with leeches, or drown people to determine if they’re witches.

    3) You seem to have bought into the 47% view that was so damaging to Romney’s campaign. You wrote, “people will vote for the worst candidate maybe ever for the problems of the time rather than give up the handouts.” But you realize, don’t you, that the parts of the country that went strongly for Romney are precisely the parts of the country that are the most dependent on government handouts, right? The blue states are very much net exporters of tax revenue; the people in those states pay more in taxes than they consume in government-provided services. The red states are the opposite: They consume more in government services than they pay in taxes. This reality, which is really easy to verify, blows a gaping hole in your whole explanation. Obama wasn’t elected by the people sucking on the government teat. He was elected by the dairy cows, despite the actual teat suckers’ strenuous effort to prevent that from happening. How do you explain that? How do you reconcile it with your view about what this election represented?

    4) On your last point, about winning the house fair and square, and having the right to block whatever you want to in order to force Obama to compromise: yeah, that’s more or less true. But if you were getting your information from better sources than the same ones that were so shamefully revealed as bullshit peddlers by this election’s outcome, you’d realize that Obama has actually been bending over backwards to compromise with Republicans ever since he took office. And every time he’s done that, watering his proposals down further and further in hopes of peeling off just a few Republican votes, the Republican leadership has resisted any compromise at all.

    I think there were arguably two reasons for that: The Tea Party has done a really good job of grabbing the nomination levers to punish any Republican willing to compromise with the hated enemy. And the Republican leadership staked everything (including the well-being of the country) on refusing to cooperate with Obama on anything that might help him get re-elected. The Party of No was willing to sacrifice the well-being of the country — impeding economic recovery from the disaster brought about by Bush’s policies — because they desperately wanted Obama to be a one-termer.

    Well, that strategy has now failed. They can (and by some estimations, will) continue to block him at every turn. Your own stated views seem to support such an approach, and if you really believe this lunacy about how Obama will usher in the death of the nation, maybe it’s even a logical position to take. But even in that case, even if some horrible Obama-caused apocalypse is nigh, doesn’t it strike you as irresponsible and immature to just say, in effect, “Welp, you’ve done it now. We’re all screwed, so I’m not going to help with my participation or ideas. I’m taking my toys and going home to my bunker in the mountains with lots of ammo and canned milk. You can just count me out.”

    I think that response, while maybe understandable in the immediate emotional aftermath of a disappointing loss, would be immature. Our ancestors faced greater challenges than this before, and they didn’t just give up. They didn’t give up in the face of British colonialism, but fought back, and won their freedom. They found a way to preserve the Union despite fighting a Civil War, to remain on their feet through the Great Depression, to free Europe and beat back the Axis powers during World War II, to win the Cold War. In each of those conflicts, conservative thought (or what arguably was the ancestor of our current understanding of that philosophy) played an important — even crucial — role.

    So I don’t think political conservatives should get a pass now. You shouldn’t be allowed to just take your toys and go home. Some of the people currently leading your movement are bozos, and should be shown the door. In particular, I think the clown show that is modern conservative media should be made to pay a price for fostering the kind of idiocy that was revealed as such over the course of the recent campaign. You need smarter, wiser, more honest opinion leaders. I believe they’re out there. You need to find them, and support them. All of us — liberals, conservatives, whatever — will benefit if you do.

  13. shcb Says:

    1) I really didn’t pay that much attention to pundits saying the election would go one way or the other. Not in a “I can’t wait to get home so I can pour over what my guys are saying” like a Bronco fan before draft day, I just don’t have the time right now. I though some of them were overly optimistic, Roger Kimball for instance. Roger made some compelling reasons but I though he was hoping for a Super Bowl win with the starting quarterback injured. I was more like Charles Krauthammer, I thought Romney should win, could win, but might not. I thought that surely the American people haven’t sunk so low in the abyss of Euro socialism’s empty promises that they won’t vote for a good man with a solid economic background, but they did, they surprised me. That is what I am so sad about, I don’t recall predicting an big victory here, maybe I did. I had an email conversation with a friend the day of the election where I said I thought Romney would win by 30 EC votes, basically Ohio.

    Speaking of Krauthammer, who would you want me to trust, the guy at MSNBC who said the other day that he hoped seeing Krauthammer’s face on the video clip he had just shown wouldn’t scare little children, then the others on the show laughed? No thanks.

    Look, a few years ago Dick Morris used all the same cold logic as Silver to predict the Republicans taking over congress in the mid terms of Clinton’s first term, this time he was like a drunk tossing darts with one flight missing. Silver will have his day, he’ll get cocky, or he won’t. But it is one day of four years, I’m not going to stop listening to my go to guys because they missed one election. Did you change your listening or reading habits after those midterms of Clinton when was it Rather or Jennings said “the voters had a temper tantrum”?

    2) Euro socialism, not socialism. Before I start, I don’t have any animosity for people that went to college. I have a lot of respect for them, it wasn’t for me, I don’t like learning at the rate of the lowest common denominator, but that is just me. My issue with you has always been that I don’t believe that degree means that person is the only one that has an opinion that counts.

    Back to euro socialism. You are right, that education you got is a good one, we are not talking about classical socialism, euro socialism is a combination of socialism and to a certain degree a few parts of fascism. I have learned that saying the word fascism is not cool so the jury will kindly disregard my use of the term. It isn’t just taxation, although you can see that is clearly where we are headed, higher taxed on the rich to begin with and then down the ladder as far as we can go without losing significant votes.

    It is more than taxes and visible taxes, it is regulating whole industries like health care while maintaining a façade of private ownership. A micro example would be a Home Owner’s Association, you still own your house, we just tell you what color to paint it, what trees you can plant and how many cars you can park in our, oops your driveway. We saw this mentality when Obama made the statement that you can build coal fired plants, no one is stopping you, we will just tax you into bankruptcy if you do. That is the Euro socialist model. You are also right that the rest of the western world has embraced it, and with that formerly great counties are now not great, stagnant little shells of themselves. Oh well, if that is what the people in this country want that is what we have unless we decide differently in the future. We, as a country, have effectively retired, maybe early retirement, we still sort of work.

    3) Don’t know about that, I’m skeptical, I would need to see the study you are referring to my guess is it is about as accurate as 98% of scientists agree with AGW

    4) Evidentially he hasn’t been working at compromise very hard if he has failed. But we have a Euro socialist mentality now, success isn’t as important as trying.

    5) Sure we have faced greater challenges before, but we faced them as Americans, we defeated the people we have become because we were better than them, we worked harder, we failed harder, got back up because there wasn’t going to be anyone there to dust us off. Our bowing to this level of government control and dependence just makes us the next defeated. I firmly believe that, not because some pundit is telling me that, sure they reinforce my beliefs, but quite frankly I don’t spend that much time on pundits any more, I am just too busy right now, that doesn’t diminish my commitment.
    6) My comments of packing it up or more precisely to Enky that you guys own it are more that he needs to come to the realization that government can’t tell people what to do, if the request gets too onerous they will just quit or go find something else. If taxes get too high the wealthy will find places to hide the money from the tax man until better conditions exist. If that seems too long term they may take the company and move it to another country. You may say we don’t get a pass, well it isn’t up to you to tell me what I can and can’t do. Like Obama not being able to compromise, sorry, you have to give me something that makes sense to me or risk losing whatever it is I have you want, that may be worth the risk to you, it depends on the circumstances but that is the risk you are taking. Enky says I should go Galt, or shut the fuck up, I don’t want to do either, and I don’t have to, that is what he needs to learn, that is what Obama is learning. I don’t have to move from this country, I can retire early and become a burden on Enky since he is so much younger than me. I would rather not do that, I would rather contribute to this society, just as those wealthy people Obama is about to soak would like to contribute to society (and make a larger profit at the same time) but that isn’t their only option, dynamic versus static modeling.

    When I owed my machine shop I was late of several projects, kept telling the customer what he wanted to hear and not the full gravity of how far behind we were. At one point this customer/friend told me that as a friend he was going to explain something to me. That most people don’t call and complain of bad service or product, they just go away silently. This is what liberals and Obama don’t understand with their static models. They think we have to react the way they want if they put a law in place, sorry, only losers follow the crowd, winners are like herding cats, you can’t push them, you have to have something they want and put it in front of them. Then run like hell to stay in front.

  14. jbc Says:

    It’s not hard to find information on the red state/blue state dichotomy in tax revenue paid/received. It only requires the will to look for it.

    I googled an obvious set of search terms; this article from Reason magazine (not exactly known as a mouthpiece for liberal propaganda) was the top result:


  15. shcb Says:

    I tried to look at the papers cited in the Reason magazine article but they were subscription sites. I think this more of a “gotcha” issue more than anything substantial, this is the kind of point Enky likes to use. For instance I would like to see how they classify ethanol subsidies, or if they even get that detailed. The ethanol subsidy is a check written to the farmers in the red states but the subsidy is really being used to easy the conscience on liberals in blue states. It doesn’t make sense to people with common sense in the red states (or the blue states). So the jury is still out on this one.

  16. jbc Says:

    Just so we’re straight on what happened here: There was something you were saying that I pointed out flies in the face of reality. You said you were skeptical. I spent about 15 seconds supplying you with the most-easily-found example I could come up with to show you that no, this thing I was saying is, in fact, reality. You took that one source, found a way to try to verify it that you were unable to complete in a short amount of time, and declared that therefore you were going to persist in being skeptical.

    As with your original assertion, the jury is still out only because you are choosing to conduct your investigation in a weirdly convoluted way that makes it possible for you to keep it out. Your epistemology is not designed to discover the truth. It is designed to allow you to continue to believe what you began with, regardless of the preponderance of evidence. You’re leaning all your weight on one side of the scale, and saying, “see? I still think feathers weigh more than lead.”

    If you actually want to find the answer to this, it isn’t hard. But you don’t want to find the answer. You just want to be right, without having to change your view.

  17. NorthernLite Says:

    Watching this conversation illustrates, for me anyway, the most important difference bewteen a Liberal and a Conservative.

    Liberals tend to live in a world of fact, logic and reason.

    Conservatives seem to live an alternate reality where Regan didn’t raise taxes and Romney was going to win the election in a landslide. Where climate science is some sort of giant conspiracy to… make our planet more sustainable.

  18. shcb Says:


    That’s not what happened at all, you gave me a link, that link mentioned a paper. This paper seems to be the one the line of thought that blue states pay more and red states use more federal money per capita comes from. Sure there are hundreds of blog posts citing this study either by name or just saying there is a study without mentioning the name, so yes you are right, I didn’t read hundreds of the same thing. I find that to not be a good use of time. I, in due diligence, tried to find the root document and read it, I found it in several locations and was only able to read the abstract without a subscription, since many of the articles had the same terminology I assume most of the writers only read the abstract as well. It seemed the writer of the Reason article may have read more so he (or she) may have actually had access to the whole study. I don’t have the required subscription and it isn’t important enough to me to acquire said subscription. If you would like to purchase the paper and email it to me I would be happy to read it and give an honest opinion.

    The study may be absolutely correct, I don’t know without reading it. The one thing I did notice about one of the critiques, I don’t remember if it was the Reason article or one of the others I read is that a possibility is “voters are irrational”. I found that, ah, disturbing? Confusing? Not sure what word I’m looking for. They seemed to miss that it is perfectly rational for someone to believe in small government and less subsidies and still take government money. In the case of a heavily subsidized industry say farming or wind generation to not take the money would put you at a disadvantage competitively. So you may be for the elimination of that subsidy because your competition would also lose those monies and your competitive advantage would be neutral, but still take the money in the present. Now the writer of the article doesn’t consider that very likely possibility, does the writer of the study? I don’t know, I haven’t read the study, so the jury is out.

  19. enkidu Says:

    I think we’re getting thru! shcb used the word ‘lose’ correctly in a sentence!

  20. shcb Says:

    I also used read and read correctly. it made more sense when I said it in my head.

  21. enkidu Says:


    The second map down shows the vote adjusted for population, rather than surface area. Note how the third one down adjusts the size of the states according to EC votes. Interesting how the EC cartogram swells the size of the plains states and shrinks the size of the populated states. We are talking one person one vote, so I think we can see the difference is part of the reason why blue states subsidize red states: red state Senators bring home the bacon, their EC advantage equals greater largess from the guv. Some of this is perfectly understandable, as you want to develop the open spaces, the empty places by putting in roads and bridges, adding resource extraction access to cheaper transit like rails and roads and you start a positive spiral of growth. As the population grows public and private action fulfills social needs like police, fire, public works like the aforementioned roads, water treatment, sewage, electrical generation, functioning judicial system, financial systems, information infrastructure (Al Gore Amazing Informational Superduper Highway of the Future!) as well as businesses selling goods in a market framework that is fair, honest and free.

    The notion that red states pay for those freeloading blue states is, like much of right wing wisdom, complete and utter nonsense. Please prove me wrong shcb.

    Never mind the bollocks.

  22. shcb Says:

    Ah… I’m not sure what your maps have to do with red and blue states paying or receiving the larges of government, but yes, one of the reasons for the EC is that it gives smaller states more power than they would if the presidential election were a national popular vote. Your maps are fine with me. Real Americans live in the center of the country liberals live on the coasts, nothing new there.

  23. enkidu Says:

    “Real Americans”
    And that is what is wrong with your ‘thinking’
    You don’t consider anyone who disagrees with you a “Real American”

    Study that second map carefully. Then look at the seventh map carefully (the county cartogram just above the side by side non-linear color scale maps). Places with lots of people in them voted blue. Places with fewer people in them voted red.

    If you can’t understand why this discussion is germane to the issue of red state/blue state taker/maker and right wing malinformation, I think you should take that 90˚polarizing filter off.

    I note you can’t prove me wrong. Come on, give it a try!

  24. enkidu Says:


    Wasn’t it Jon Stewart who said ‘I finally figured it out! There is a Barak Obama that only Republicans can see!’ (picture of Clint Eastwood yelling at an empty chair)

  25. shcb Says:

    We are discussing the relationship of taxes to voting, your graphs are missing half that equation

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