Summary: Propaganda is an ancient tool of government. Its perfection during the world wars created a new world. Today’s political polarization results in part from a population whose extremes literally see different worlds. Epistemic closure, carefully limiting ones vision to see only confirmatory information, rules many people’s minds and makes communication difficult (or impossible). After our long series looking at the world through the Left’s eyes (apocalypse real soon), today we see how it works on the Right.
What do right-wing people read? Even ignoring the usually ludicrously false email strings, many conservative’s information diet consists to a frightening extent of paranoia and delusion. It’s a vision in which America is constantly under attack, at risk of defeat, with enemies everywhere. We never attack (except in self-defense), always with pure motives. Belligerence is the only good response.
Such people see a manichean world, in which seldom can be found a trace of grey — or uncertainty.
Here are selections from one week of Milinet, a free daily email. Note the prevalence of far-right sources, more op-eds than news. Imagine the effect of reading little but such material, day after day. Step by step, inch by inch, away from reality towards a world of interlocking delusions.
Quite mad: “Special report: The cyberwar threat from North Korea“, Fox News, 14 February 2014
Excellent agitprop: “Expert: Iran ships a dry run for later nuclear/EMP attack; humiliate Obama“, The Washington Examiner, 14 February 2014 — The “expert” is Peter Pry, long-time alarmist about EMP; expert at fantasizing about EMP threats. What is the threat to Iran of the US carriers stationed off its shores?
Best agiprop of the week: “Four al Qaeda Groups Gunning for the United States“, David Francis, The Fiscal Times, 13 February 2014 — The groups mentioned here are insurgencies in Africa, purely local. None show any interest in “gunning for the United States”. The article does not even attempt to show that US national interests are at stake. However it does show that we’re using US military power to attack them. If they were to attach us as we have them, we’d scream “terrorism”.
“U.S. easing terrorist-support rule on immigration“, AP, 9 February 2014 — “The Obama administration has eased the rules for would-be asylum-seekers, refugees and others who hope to come to the United States or stay here and who gave “limited” support to terrorists or terrorist groups. Got to love the scare quotes around limited.
“TWO AMERICAS“, Bob Lonsberry, at his website, 9 December 2013 – – “The America that works, and the America that doesn’t. The America that contributes, and the America that doesn’t.” He doesn’t dare say that the statistics he sees with such horror show that much of the America that doesn’t work is retired. Mentioning that would nuke the GOP coalition.
“China Shows New Mobile ICBM on Internet“, Washington Free Beacon, 10 February 2014 — “Photo reportedly shows missile leaving manufacturing plant.” Articles about a great power like China building a strong military are a staple of conservative paranoia.
“China’s Jin-class submarine poses threat to US soil“, Want China Times, 10 February 2014 — Ditto.
“Iran test-fires long-range missile per Iran’s Defense minister“, Reuters, 10 February 2014 — How dare they build a military like ours.
“Government by anarchy from a lawless president“, editorial at The Washington Times, 11 February 2014 — “Delaying an inconvenient law requires more than the stroke of a president’s pen.” You must remain ignorant of US history, and the many precedents for such actions — back to Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.
“The Blaze Investigation: How Obama and the Army Betrayed the Victims of Fort Hood“, The Blaze, 10 February 2014 — All bad actions of the Federal government are Obama’s, but not the good ones.
Inside the Ring: Obama pushback against China is probably too little, too late; Iran threat on the horizon; & Marine Times blacklisted“, Washington Times, 10 February 2014 — Note the description given is not the story’s headline.
“The Pentagon’s Bow to Islamic Extremism“, Raymond Ibrahim, posted at Victor Hanson’s website, 12 February 2014 — “Caving to pressure from Muslim groups, the Pentagon has relaxed uniform rules to allow Islamic beards, turbans and hijabs. It’s a major win for political correctness and a big loss for military unit cohesion,” said a recent report.” The “report” is an editorial in the right-wing Investors Business Daily. The IBD says “the sharia-compliant regulation threatens to expand the jihadi Fifth Column …”
“Iran to get ‘more than $20B’ in sanctions relief; accuracy of Obama promise questioned“, By Adam Kredo (writer for The Washington Free Beacon), op-ed in The Washington Times, 14 February 2014. They just know that Iran will get nukes soon, as they have known since 1984.
“Saudi Arabia May Go Nuclear Because of Obama’s Iran Deal“, The Daily Beast, 14 February 2014 — “President Obama wants an agreement with Iran to prevent a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race, but it’s pushing Saudi Arabia toward its own nuke program.” Ditto.
“The high price of negotiating with bad guys“, Michael Rubin (American Enterprise Institute), op-ed in the Washington Post, 14 February 2014 — War is the only option! Rubin has learned nothing from our expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq, or the multi-millennia long history of failed invasions.
“The U.S. must take action to deal with al-Qaeda in Syria“, Samuel R. Berger, op-ed in the Washington Post, 14 February 2014 — War, war, war.
“Syria’s war must end“, Stephen Hawking, op-ed in the Washington Post, 14 February 2014 — War, war, war. Hawking is a genius, but appears to know little about history.
Frequent stories about Benghazi, the horror that never fades
… unlike the invisible roll of dead and wounded in Afghanistan.
- “House GOP’s new Benghazi report lays blame on White House, State“, Gannett News, 11 February 2014
- “Did CIA official suppress Benghazi narrative? Accounts raise new questions“, Fox News, 14 February 2014
- “Blind in Benghazi“, editorial in the Washington Times, 11 February 2014 — “Congressional inquiry closes in on truth about 2012 terrorist attack”
12 thoughts on “Seeing the world through conservative eyes”
February 15, 2014
Book Discussion on The Loudest Voice in the Room
Gabriel Sherman talked about his book, The Loudest Voice in the Room: The Inside Story of How Roger Ailes and Fox News Remade American Politics, in which he chronicles the life of the founder of the Fox News. He spoke at the 2014 Savannah Book Festival which took place from February 13-16, 2014 in Telfair Square and at the Trustees Theater in Savannah, Georgia.
April 7, 2005
A Conversation with Roger Ailes
Mr. Kalb interviewed Mr. Ailes about the success of the FOX News Channel and company plans for the future. He had been head of FOX News network for nine years and helped launch the channel. Among the issues he addressed were the state of journalism, the influence of the 24 hour news cycle on public policy, editorial decision-making at major news organizations, and public perceptions of the news business. He also answered questions from members of the audience.
Very enjoyable update – good to see media surveys like this. When Left/Right bias is laid out like this, it becomes harder for partisans to pretend they’re using reason more than emotion.
I have just checked out and am reading Will Durant’s “Lesson’s of History”. Does that mark my position on the political spectrum?
Why would reading a book mark your position?
It marks the absence of a position, liberal vs conservative. The narratives of each distort the worldview of each faction.
Durant published long enough ago (circa 1968) such that the current l-vs-r positioning has no effect on worldview as presented by his works.
Reading such works gives an entirely different perspective to the current debates.
The point: not everyone is enthralled by today’s political debate. It is instructive to see today’s debate from a distant vantage point.
That does not answer my question: “Why would reading a book mark your position?”
This story is nothing but propaganda! The left is ruining America!
each side has amassed mountains of evidence that the other side is ruining America. perhaps they are both correct?
David (not DavidH),
Thanks for the wonderful example of blinkered vision, so typical of America today. You see facts, and react to maintain your views. Pretty.
Just use the passive voice and remove the subject:
The USA is being ruined.
That way, you can enjoy it right on the 50-year line.
Can you explain a bit more. I do not understand what you are attempting to say.