Sunday, April 15, 2018

On Rightwing Media

It is an article of faith among the right that left wing media is not just dominant in America--but virtually all important. After all, the New York Times is the "paper of record" and the Washington Post is one of the most respected publications in the world. If you count CNN, MSNBC, and the three main networks as having not just a "liberal bias"--but actually being "liberal outlets" the same way that Fox News is a "conservative outlet" then the left outnumbers the right greatly in terms of production of news and, to a degree eyeballs.

If you look at the covers of Newsweek, Time, and other print publications, you can certainly see a difference between Obama and Trump:
It isn't just one "cover" either--pretty much the press loved Obama and, with the exception of right-wing media, really doesn't like Trump.

This is, to The Omnivore's mind, inarguable. If our basis is the covers of print publications and the internal (self-reported, even) biases of journalists alone, there can be no question: Trump is clearly disliked more than Obama.

If we assume both presidents were, objectively, fundamentally, the same, this would, indeed, be proof that the media (and, perhaps, the media alone) is fanning the flames against Trump.

Left-Wing Conspiracy Theory

Research shows that Conspiracy Theories Are for Losers--that is, the group that is out of power is more likely to believe and propagate conspiracy theories than the group in power. Research also shows that the more conspiracy theories you believe, the more you are likely to believe: Conspiracy Theory is a mindset more than just a reaction to "a set of facts" (where one set of facts is judged independently from another).

NOTE: There is one reader out there (at least) who will counsel The Omnivore not to make too much of these studies--as, of course, studies and statistics are often suspect. Yes, Daivd--The Omnivore isn't relying on these so much as saying (a) they certainly fit The Omnivore's experience and (b) they aren't the only studies that show this phenomena, if you don't like them as bolstering The Omnivore's thesis, show your own studies.

As such, we would expect that, having lost the 2016 election, liberals would descend into conspiracy theory thinking as the out-group. Indeed, The Omnivore was pointed to a Twitter Thread that marvels at exactly that:

Hah! This person thinks--see THAT, Omnivore?

Indeed, the phenomena that the Twitter guy describes is certainly plausible. After all, we don't know for a fact that Trump asked about the pee-tape, do we? We just have Lyin' Comey's word for that (one wonders what Ted Cruz thinks about his nickname being taken away and given to the FBI dude).

So--is this what we're seeing? Is the left just as conspiracy mired as the right? Are these conspiracy theories and belief in #fakenews what is pulling down the Trump presidency?


Some Context For You

This is an analysis of traffic to conservative websites for December 2017.

There are a few takeaways here that we should note:

  1. Brietbart and The Daily Caller aren't #fakenews. Breitbart is heavily, heavily biased and has engaged in some bad behavior (a black-crime tag so their readers can be kept up to date on those crimes the negros are doin'--a very important thing in Conserva-land, apparently) nad The Washington Examiner, The Blaze, the Washington Times, Townhall, and National Review are all pretty straight up right-wing news.
  2. On the other hand, Infowars, Newsmax, and WND are all--uh--raw frothing conspiracy theory. The Federalist (down at 16--but still quite relevant) revived the Black-Crime-Tag (until caught--but apparently it's good for SEO, if you know what The Omnivore means--and he thinks you do!). These are not just bad news--they are fake-news.
  3. While these are explicitly "conservative news web sites" it should be noted that when you do the same for liberal news websites you get things that look like this: CNN, NYT, ABC, Slate, Politico, Time, and WaPo. In other words, "liberal news sites" are just "news." Conservative non-fake websites give you bias at the rate of Brietbart (after Fox) and then the Conservative Tribune--and then Infowars.
If you believe that, say, ABC is as biased as Brietbart, The Omnivore has some crypto-currency to sell you ("BUT Omni--they are as biased--or worse--YOU JUST CAN'T SEE IT!").

Yes, The Omnivore can. In fact--The Omnivore wants to look at that right now.

What People Are Being Told

It is important to review two things here:
  1. For the most part, the people visit news sources they trust. The Omnivore doesn't have trust data from Pew past 2014--but does not think it's a stretch to say that those outlets that are the most visited are generally trusted (there may be a rubber-necking element with InfoWars--The Omnivore certainly hopes so--but at #5, that's still a really ominous amount of traffic).
  2. The examples of Left Wing Conspiracy Theory that the Twitter Guy up there listed were (a) Quoting Comey as Trump "talking about the pee tape" and (b) referencing post on random blogs saying "wow, if true."--hold these in your mind for a second.
The  spectrum of Conspiracy Theory on the left and right looks something like this.
  • Real: Trump's campaign was favored by Russia. Russia may have made some moves to influence the campaign directly or indirectly. Trump Jr., at some point, certainly thought they were and was highly interested in help. Trump issued a statement lying about this. There is an investigation into what happened / how much the Trump campaign was intentionally involved. Also: Trump-Lawyer / Fixer may have done some shady or even illegal stuff that may or may not have been directly part of the campaign. It's also being investigated.
  • Liberal Spin: Jr. certainly tried to collude. Trump sure as hell "acts guilty" by firing Comey and giving different stories about why he did. Boy, it sure seems likely that Trump did something, doesn't it??
  • Conservative Spin: Trump wanted, desperately, to put the whole Russia thing behind him and Comey was definitely an ideological enemy. Trump did the obvious thing by firing him--but his whole newbie political deal blew up in his face. Same with Don Jr--it was just some bad decisions by a newbie politico. Nothing came of it. The investigation will turn up nothing on the collusion front and, if it goes beyond issues of Russia and the Campaign, it is Mueller over-stepping. Also: Russia hated Hillary more than they "liked Trump."
  • Liberal Conspiracy Spin: Trump was obsessed with the Pee-Tape (b/c IT'S REAL!) and Trump gave Cambridge Analytica voter targeting info to Russia to help them swing the campaign. MAYBE THEY DID! In office Trump is clearly a Russian puppet--resisting sanctions, talking up Putin, revealing state secrets! HE'S A PUPPET!!
  • Conservative Conspiracy Spin: A small group of insiders at the top of the Intelligence Community worked together as Trump Haters to Take Him Down. This started with the Dossier as an insurance program, should they lose (a small group realized they could/would) and was used to put the investigation "in motion," bamboozling FISA judges. This cabal extended to Rosenstein who pounced when Trump made a misstep and hired Comey's friend Mueller to do the dirty work. Now Mueller, who has clearly found nothing thus far is doing what he can to wreck the presidency through other means, such as the illegal Cohen Raid.
  • Liberal Bat-Shit Theory: Trump has already been deposed--so has Pence! Orin Hatch is running the country (or some shit, Trust The Omnivore, it's out there). Alternatively: Trump so caught up in Russia Gate that basically Putin is running the country.
  • Conservative Bat-Shit Theory: The Deep State is covering up a massive satanic pedophile ring that Trump is working tirelessly to bust (maybe with Mueller?). Clinton is going DOWN!! Obama is GOING DOWN!! Unless they can get him first. Alternatively: this is a slow-motion coup by #TheResistance, the IC, the FBI, the Media, and, ultimately, Obama/Clinton who are orchestrating a consolidated attack on our country.
Hopefully you'll read that wall-of-text and realize that while it doesn't cover everything (how could it??), it is The Omnivore avers, pretty fair to both sides.

Here's the problem: If we assume (and this is, in fact, the case) that media consumers are getting either the Liberal or Liberal Conspiracy spin on the Left or the Conservative / Conservative Conspiracy Spin on the right, there's a big difference. 

Do you see it?

The problem is that the Conservative Conspiracy Spin--that Mueller is a hostile agent working with a small cabal of people to take down Trump based on a network of carefully laid lies and political maneuvers who is doing clearly illegal things--is the Right-Hand side. On the Left-Hand Side, the theory is that Mueller will reveal conspiracy! And when he does, we can all watch the Pee Tape.

These two things are not symmetric--why so? Firstly: the Left-Wing theory doesn't hold Mueller as doing illegal things in pursuit Trump. If Mueller completely exonerates Trump, doubtless #TheResistance will be dumbstruck and hugely (YUGELY) disappointed--but it will take an extremely heavy lift for the news media involved to declare Mueller corrupt.

Read that again: We are talking about numerous people--across lots of media--who would need to reverse-course and declare that Mueller was corrupt all along. That could happen--but there is no evidence it will.

On the other hand, on the right, people are being told that Mueller is already corrupt

This is far-reaching and pervasive--it isn't bat-shit crazy--but it is deeply conspiratorial. Mark Levin has told his readers Mueller is corrupt. Trump has told his believers he's corrupt. Your average person going to those top 20 sites is going to get a steady diet of the theory that Mueller is exceeding his grasp with the Cohen investigation because he has turned up nothing in the regular one.

How does the conspiracy theory know this? Because they feel certain it would have leaked. In other words, lack of evidence is proof.

If you don't believe The Omnivore, go to some of those sites that have comments and look at them. There are two kinds of comments--anti-Trump trolls . . . and people who believe Mueller is corrupt. And let's keep in mind here that there is ZERO separation between the SDNY investigation of Cohen and Mueller's investigation of Trump.

This is despite having followed all the rules to the letter on the part of Mueller and even going to the federal agency (headed by an R--who recused himself) rather than the state agency (headed by a D). In other words, despite hewing to the rule-of-law, these readers are already decided: it's a corrupt fraud and a hack-job.

If Mueller does find collusion--or someone goes after Trump for dirty dealings with Cohen--these people will believe it was all an illegitimate set up--and that will have been strongly reinforced by their news media.

The Liberal Conspiracy Theory--that Trump was obsessed with the Pee Tape--or that Cohen lied about Prague and it's proven--is comparatively benign. The Twitter Guy up there doesn't say what websites are being re-tweeted with "Woah, if true"--but the amount of Liberal Conspiracy theory out there is strongly weighted in terms of "he's guilty and he's going down"--not "there is a large conspiracy working in the shadows, etc. etc."

To the extent that in the Liberal World a large conspiracy exists, it is a dark-money web (that, er, really does exist in all of politics) and a decision by Republicans to protect a president they know is corrupt (which is overstating the case, Kevin McCarthy's jokes aside).

These simply aren't comparable. One is setting up for disappointment. The other is refusing to acknowledge the rule of law and preparing for civil war.

Will #TheResistance take up guns when / if Trump is cleared? Maybe. But it doesn't seem likely to The Omnivore (someone, of course, may do something--but if The Omnivore had to bet, it is a much more likely thing that someone on the right will do something if Trump is accused / removed from office). 

These are all maybes--but right now? They aren't remotely comparable.


  1. It’s John Roberts who is control as the head of the FISA court. Duh.

  2. I'd love to see if statistically thanks to Hillary and Obama Soros is actually getting less blame for All Evils in the wacky right these days.

  3. Ok, Kevin McCarthy, a Rabbi, and a guy who's totally gonna eliminate the debt go into a bar...