So sayeth conservative radio personality Charlie Sykes:

We’ve basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers. There’s nobody. Let’s say Donald Trump basically makes whatever you want to say, whatever claim he wants to make. And everybody knows it’s a falsehood. The big question of my audience, it is impossible for me to say that, “By the way, you know it’s false.” and they’ll say “Why? I saw it on Allen B West.” Or they’ll say “I saw it on a Facebook page.” And I’ll say “The New York Times did a fact check.” And they’ll say “Oh, that’s The New York Times. That’s bullshit.” There’s nobody – you can’t go to anybody and say, “Look, here are the facts.” And I have to say that’s one of the more disorienting realities of this political year. You can be in this alternative media reality and there’s no way to break through it. And I swam upstream because if I don’t say these things from some of these websites, then suddenly I have sold out. Then they’ll ask what’s wrong with me for not repeating these stories that I know not to be true.

When this is all over, we have to go back. There’s got to be a reckoning on all this. We’ve created this monster. And look, I’m a conservative talk show host. All conservative talk hosts have basically established their brand as being contrasted to the mainstream media. We have spent 20 years demonizing the liberal mainstream media. And by the way, a lot of it has been justifiable. There is real bias. But, at a certain point you realize you have destroyed the credibility of any credible outlet out there. And I am feeling, to a certain extent, that we are reaping the whirlwind at that. And I have to look at the mirror and ask myself, “To what extent did I contribute?” I’ll be honest, the bias of our mainstream media has been a staple for every conservative talk show host, every conservative pundit, for as long as I can remember. Going way back to the 1960s with William F Buckley, Jr.

This is almost a metaphor for larger issues. In the same way that the anti-Trump conservative entertainment weak tore apart the trust in the media they’d need this year, they also tore down the institutional protections and respect that might have prevented his rise to begin with. I’ve previously likened Trump to a virus that succeeded in large part due to a compromised immune system. Among other things, the bullspit detecting antibodies had been obliterated after wave on wave of previous infections.

And so when the media was needed, it wasn’t there in a meaningful extent. It couldn’t penetrate the minds of those who needed to hear it. Their credibility had been destroyed. When “the establishment” sought to stop him, they couldn’t. Their credibility had been destroyed. And the conservative news personalities were disinclined to rain on anybody’s parade.

I’ve been rather hard on Erick Erickson lately, because up until earlier this year he has been among the worst offenders. So it’s a bit rich for him to act as the “principled opposition.” On the other hand, at least he did flip. And when Republican voters needed to hear a particular thing, he tried to tell it.

What I still haven’t seen, except from Sykes above, is any indication that 2016 followed 2015, which followed 2014 and especially 2013. And that these things are related.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Category: Newsroom

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5 Responses to William Roper’s Conceit

  1. RTod says:

    I have to say, when I read that bit of interview I found myself thinking, “Hey, I wrote that exact point several times four years ago, and most of the moderate conservatives I know pooh-poohed it.”

    Weird, now, to see it getting passed around on Twitter and Facebook by the same folks.

  2. SFG says:

    You know, there’s this whole epistemiological question attached to this problem.

    You don’t trust the media? Great, neither do I.

    OK, is the value of ‘g’ really 9.8 m/s^2? Sure, you can do an experiment and prove it.

    OK, did WW2 really happen? Sure, there are memorials everywhere. People still around have memories of it. You can see rubble and old planes and weapons and things like that.

    OK, how about the Holocaust? Did that really happen? Well, sure, we’ve got confessions from Nazis? But wait, couldn’t they have falsely extracted those through torture? What about those pictures of all the dead bodies? They could have been dead people from somewhere else, or dead from typhus, or something else. Just go to the Institute for Historical Review…

    So if I point to my source, and you point to your source, and we each think the other source is paid off or controlled by Big Business/Big Media/SJWs/the alt-right/ZOG, we’re basically at a standstill. I can’t convince you and you can’t convince me because we each have our own reality.

    I have no idea how to get out of this problem.

    • RTod says:

      I think the knot is even trickier than that, though perhaps also easier to undo if there *is* a desire to undo it. Because it’s my belief that there are people who sell the idea that (to take your example) WWII never happened even though they are aware (or are at least 100% sure in their own minds) that it did.

      To take a current issue example, I don’t think the editors at Breitbart ever really believed that Khizr Kahn was a sleeper agent for the Muslim Brotherhood. Just as I don’t think anyone at Fox back in 2010 ever believed Obama was really born in Kenya.

      Which a different kind of problem then having one person honestly believing that the earth is flat and the other honestly believing it’s not.

  3. Murali says:

    Even the experiment thing is less clear cut than you suppose.

    The only reason you think this experiment confirms that g is 9.81 is that you read it in a science textbook. They could have lied to you about that too.

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