The conservative author of a paper that concluded that Fox News is promoting a culture of self-brainwashing in the Republican Party, Bruce Bartlett, was featured on the only Sunday show that would discuss the damage that Fox News is doing to the Republican Party.
Transcript via Reliable Sources:
STELTER: Let me read one line that I thought stood out to me and a lot of other people.
You said: “It can almost be called self-brainwashing. Many conservatives now refuse to even listen to any news or opinion not vetted through FOX and to believe whatever appears on it as the gospel truth.”
BARTLETT: I don’t think that word is too strong.
I think many conservatives live in a bubble, where they watch only FOX News on television, they listen only to conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, many of the same people. They — when they go on to the Internet, they look at only conservative Web sites, like “National Review,” Newsmax, World Net Daily.
And so they are completely in a universe in which they are hearing the same exact ideas, the same arguments, the same limited amount of data repeated over and over and over again. And that’s — that’s brainwashing.
STELTER: And do you believe that’s more true for conservatives than for liberals?
BARTLETT: Yes, I do. I believe that, but…
STELTER: What causes that?
BARTLETT: Well, I think, for a long time, the media was — did tilt a bit to the left. And so I think that conservatives, once they got a media of their own, just sort of glommed onto it like a man in the desert, you know, being given some water. They drank very heavily from the FOX waters.
And — but what I don’t think they have quite come to understand yet is, it’s a double-edged sword. There’s no question that FOX helps the Republican Party enormously, but it’s not 100 percent positive. There are some negatives. And I think we’re starting to see some of them in this election cycle.
STELTER: You’re bringing up what — basically, you’re describing negative consequences of having a channel that does reinforce viewers’ beliefs.
BARTLETT: That’s right.
One of the things, I cite a study in my paper where I talk about how FOX viewers in the 2012 election cycle tended to have more wishful thinking, so to speak. That is, they were more confident, unrealistically confident, I think, based on objective analysis of the polls. And you may remember, there was this Web site, what was it, Unskewed Polls. Remember that?
STELTER: Right. Right.
BARTLETT: Where some — it was just widely, widely believed in Republican circles that all of the polls were biased against Romney, and that he was actually doing really, really well, much better, and was going to win pretty easily.
And, as we know, Karl Rove, among others, was shocked on election night, when he didn’t do as well as expected.
It is rare to see any of the cable networks call out the Republican media bubble. Most of the press is so worried about being left out and not getting access to Republicans that they treat Republican falsehoods as facts and don’t bother to examine a media culture that has created millions of brainwashed voters.
Republicans are living in a media bubble that allows them to create a false reality. In the conservative media bubble, facts are bent to fit their ideology. Anything that isn’t sunshine and rainbows for the Republican Party is immediately discredited as “liberal bias.”
The conservative media bubble plays a role in the hyper-partisan nature of Congress. While most networks are afraid to do it, CNN gave a platform to a discussion of how Fox News is harming the Republican Party.