Can The Right Displace The Establishment Media?Posted: February 20, 2014
Warren Henry writes: In the internet era, the Left’s grip on the mediaspace has weakened, but not nearly to the degree needed to move America onto a better cultural or political trajectory. Moreover, if the Right is not proactive and creative, the Left could regain the upper hand. What follows is an immodest suggestion for the Right to compete and gain influence at the highest levels of media.
Mike Gonzalez, Vice President of Communications at The Heritage Foundation, recently wrote in these pages about the degree to which the internet — from independent, right leaning punditry to social media — has weakened the grip of traditional, left-leaning Big Media on our national discourse.
[See also Understanding The Left’s Grip On Media]
Although the piece recalls past themes of blogger triumphalism which may be unwarranted in the current political climate, it is undeniable that Big Media — an artifact of the industrial age — continues to struggle and perhaps wither in the internet age. Mr. Gonzalez notes that Heritage’s Foundry is transforming from a blog to its own media outlet, a welcome development that likely fueled the optimism of much of his column.
Conversely, Mr. Gonzalez devoted part of his column to the potential threat internet utilities such as Google and Facebook pose to the democratization of the media through their influence over internet traffic. Such concerns are not unfounded. For example, Facebook is currently attempting to shift from a pure social network to an arbiter of news. This can be seen not only in the launch of itsPaper app, but also in the most recent changes to its news feed algorithm, which immediately crushed traffic flowing to sites as ideologically disparate as Upworthyand Right Wing News (although BuzzFeed emerged unscathed). Yet conservatives and libertarians probably should have more serious concerns about the future of media and a broader vision for addressing them.
Republican political strategist and tech guru Partick Ruffini recently took to Twitter to express a more pessimistic view of right-leaning media. In Mr. Ruffini’s view, the project of creating a conservative counterculture has largely failed to date. While Mr. Gonzalez celebrates the rise of transparently ideological or partisan media outlets, Mr. Ruffini argues there is value in concealing (or attempting to conceal) ideology as media outlets like the New York Times do. In particular, overt political branding interferes with the ability to position the underlying political position as the natural, ordinary and consensus position. What many conservatives and libertarians laud as honesty thus plays into the efforts of the Left to marginalize and Otherize the Right.
Although I suspect a broad segment of the Right is more inclined to agree with Mr. Gonzalez, his views are not mutually exclusive to those of Mr. Ruffini. In surveying the modern media ecosystem, it is possible to conclude that outlets such as The Blaze, Daily Caller, Washington Examiner, and Washington Free Beacon are at least becoming competitive with outlets such as the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo in terms of reporting (as opposed to pure punditry),while observing the Right (with the half-exception of the Wall Street Journal) lacks competitors to the New York Times, Washington Post or the network news broadcasts. The viewership for the latter may be declining, yet they still reach as large an audience nightly as Rush Limbaugh reaches weekly, or Fox News Channel reaches monthly. Moreover, by positioning themselves as neutral (however disingenuously), these top-tier outlets do not merely preach to the converted…
- Conservatives and Culture (commentarymagazine.com)
- Conversation with Patrick Ruffini (politicalwire.com)
- ‘Barroing’: Josh Barro unloads on ‘anti-intellectual’ US conservatives; ‘Hicks’ fire back (twitchy.com)
- Healthcare.gov Example of Liberalism’s Failures (breitbart.com)