Following up the prior post: Sondland today did indeed lay out some testimony that must’ve had White House lawyers reach for the Rolaids more than once, but that is not what this post is about. It’s about how the top story of the news cycle gets rolled out at various sites. It’s about how one flavor of site is not like the others, and really is about why a third of the country has been conditioned to believe outlandish made-up nonsense. Hint: No, it’s not because of Mark Zuckerberg.
First, let’s look at some mainstream sites’ headlines. All follow the old-school media model of trying to play it fair and, other than a national paper, represent communities varying from purple to deep-red. From left to right, we have Newsday (Long Island, NY), USA Today, the Kansas City Star, and the Salt Lake Tribune.
The verbiage differs, but all say that Sondland implicated Trump and/or his lieutenants like Rudy and Pompeo.
Next, let’s look at some unabashadly liberal outlets: (L-R) Huffpost, New York Magazine, vox.com, and The Daily Beast.
These guys all jazzed up their headlines (Sings! Damning! Threw under the bus!) and throw in more than a little editorializing, some of it premature (is it really “the ballgame”? C’mon). Yet, when it comes to the facts of the testimony, they do not deviate substantially from the mainstream outlets on the facts of the case.
Now let’s take a look at the conservative press, and by that, I do not mean The Bulwark. Here we see (L) the NY Post, (upper R) Breitbart, (mid-R) the Washington Examiner, and (lower R) the president’s favorite channel.
You may be forgiven if you feel like you’re receiving news from some alternate dimension. Two of the sites fail to mention Sondland at all on their front pages when he’s the news of the day, preferring “but Hunter Biden” and/or the tried-and-true “but Obama.” One tries to spin Sondland as a win, and finally, Fox goes with “We may never know the truth here.”
This… THIS is why MAGA is divorced from the rest of the country. Mark Zuckerberg isn’t writing the nonsense stories your Trump-worshiping relative keeps sharing on Facebook. He isn’t forcing anyone to push stories from sites notable for their ads selling gold. Zuck’s not blameless — his algorithms create an echo chamber for his users, as does Twitter’s — but on the other hand, that seems to be precisely what people want.
And so MAGA voters do not want to be troubled with information that deviates from the reassuring “alternative facts” pushed by their safe spaces like FoxNews. In their world, Trump literally *always* wins, and every story is about some smug liberal getting comeuppance or just how much of a victim the most powerful man in the world is, or similar rot.
Furthermore, the people who work for these sites know what their readers want. They get avalanches of hate mail for raising even the slightest criticism of Dear Leader; such heresy can and will also cost them their jobs — sometimes immediately.
If you’re a conservative freelance writer trying to squeak out a living in an increasingly precarious economy for your profession, or a FoxNews line producer uncomfortable with what’s happened to your workplace, or a popular right-wing podcaster or YouTuber since before the rise of Trump, you are under enormous pressure to fellate the orange schlong like everyone around you. I mention sites like The Federalist selling out, but the simple fact remains that if they did not submit before Trump, they would have been shut down and their jobs eliminated. Prostitute your and your magazine’s ideals before the bronze man, however, and the lure of big-time book deals dangle before you.
I talk about what happens to a democracy when a large chunk of voters wish to eliminate the democracy. Now we also know what happens to the news industry when a large chunk of people do not wish to hear the real news, ever.