Live by the bubble, die by the bubble

Media / journalism, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

“The rise of the conservative media,” Isaac Chotiner notes at The Plank, “has obviously done the right a tremendous amount of good over the past generation.” Which is true of course. Through talk radio, Fox and its part of the blogosphere, the right aggressively staked out an expanding media territory devoted to its message. These media have honed a visceral appeal to people’s resentment and their lust for a good fight, which has allowed them to suck ever more people in and then ensure that they have always absorbed the talking points of the day. This has made for an aggressive fighting force, which could easily power its way to 50%+1 election victories.

But the fighting force remains a minority nevertheless, and there’s the rub this year.

(Image used under CC license from Flickr user DClemm)

(Image used under CC license from Flickr user DClemm)

There’s a large swathe of voters in the middle which cares little about liberal agendas (or politics at all for that matter), but would be too put off by all the shouting to listen to talk radio. They can be swayed into assent by those who do, however, if an overarching narrative like the War on Terror in 2004 or “bringing values back to Washington” in 2000 is:
a) brought forcefully enough;
b) based on immediate, high-profile events (9/11, Monica);
c) reasonably feasible; and
d) if there’s little effective counterpush.

They nevertheless remain distinctly un-sucked into the more immediate vortex of talking points inside the conservative media territory. They didn’t care about Vince Foster or Bill Clinton having once taken a hit on a joint. They dont fret over liberal indoctrination at universities – they just want their kids to go to a good school. Even the outrage over Monica Lewinsky was long a hard sell to this middle – just look at Bill’s consistently high approval rates.

Check in with the rightwing media now, however, and that’s all they have: a collection of narrow talking points with little relevance to life outside politics. They’re trapped inside the bubble, Chotiner says:

“Read the right’s blogs, listen to FOX News, turn on talk radio–all you hear (even right now, after the debate) is Ayers, ACORN, Reid, Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd (the last two being, duh, the sole villains behind our economic crisis). It’s as if the conservative movement has found itself mouthing talking points that no one outside of the bubble could possibly care about. Maybe it’s always like this when a political party faces an electoral catastrophe, but it sure is noticeable right now.”

The monocultural discipline which the conservative media territory offered made for a relentlessly on-message electoral fighting force in 2000 and 2004. Bolstered by Fox and talk radio on the airwaves, the movement conservatives were able to monopolise the party and push out moderates and independent thinkers, in a way MoveOn and the lefty blogosphere never succeeded in doing with the Democratic Party.

(Image used under CC license from Flickr user Chuckumentary)

(Image used under CC license from Flickr user Chuckumentary)

But the same monoculturalism now makes for a movement that’s largely unable to look at itself from the outside. They realise their message isnt resonating, but can’t understand whyever not. It’s living inside the bubble that made them such a cohesive machine. But it’s living in the same bubble that makes them unable to correct themselves and adapt now. All that’s left is anger and frustration.

3 Comments

2 Comments

  1. sozobe  •  Oct 17, 2008 @9:32 am

    Excellent post, I agree. Great pics too. (Is that Obama in the top one? I can’t tell.)

  2. nimh  •  Oct 17, 2008 @10:11 am

    “God hates Obama”, yep.

    *stares*

    I wasnt very happy with this post actually, too ho-hum maybe?, but then I found these photos on Flickr and all was well. Both users have interesting other pictures from the campaign trail too (click on the photos to get there).

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