New Republic Writer: ‘Self-Pitying’ Conservative Media Make Right More Likely to Buy Conspiracies

May 25th, 2017 8:50 PM

If Dwight Eisenhower were alive, he might warn the Republican Party about the dangers of its conspiracy-industrial complex, suggested The New Republic’s Jeet Heer on Tuesday. As for Democrats, Heer acknowledged that while some of them buy into conspiracy theories, especially juicy ones about President Trump and Russia, they, unlike Republicans, generally deal “responsibly” with “politically convenient, but obviously fantastic, stories.”

Why the difference? Heer argued that “Democrats are much more heterogeneous than Republicans, which makes it harder to spread conspiracy theories among their ranks…The Republican Party is solidly a party of the right, with some variation between the Tea Party wing and conventional conservatives, but within a narrow spectrum. Democrats are divided into factions that run from Bernie Sanders leftists to Hillary Clinton liberals to Heidi Heitkamp centrists.”

Moreover, indicated Heer, if a “prominent” liberal “falls for a conspiracy theory,” it won’t be for long, because the left’s “feedback loop” means that he’ll be “challenged by the media and willing to correct” himself.

Really? Is that why MSNBC featured a 9/11 truther as a host? Is that why ABC twice hired 9/11 truther Rosie O'Donnell to host a talk show? Is that why in 2006 more than half of Democrats believed George W. Bush knew about 9/11 in advance? 

On the other hand, conservatives not only “tend to adhere to a ‘no apologies’ ethos that makes admitting error verboten” but also flock to news sources that facilitate the dissemination of conspiracy theories (bolding added):

Conservative media tends to be strongly tribalist and self-pitying, adhering to the idea that liberal bias is the biggest problem in news coverage. Such ideological tunnel vision disinclines these outlets right to counter conspiratorial thinking in their own ranks. It doesn’t suit their narrative about the “lamestream media,” and it’s bad for business…

The real lesson…is not that the left is suddenly falling for conspiracy theories with the same fervor as the right has for decades. It’s that these theories can be largely smothered if you have a vibrant and diverse political party that is open to debate and beholden to a fact-based press. The tragedy of modern American politics is that only one of the two major parties fits that bill.