Some conservative commentators are struggling to come to grips with the role that they played in creating a phenomenon like renegade Alabama candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore.
The Atlantic‘s Rosie Gray and McCay Koppins wrote on Friday that conservatives who sowed the wind by dismissing any information they disagree with as “fake news” are being forced to “reap the whirlwind of their war on the media” as Moore deflects credible charges of child sex predation by labeling them a conspiracy perpetrated by his political enemies.
“(I)n the Trump era, anti-press sentiment has reached a fever pitch on the right — something candidates like Moore are eagerly exploiting,” said The Atlantic, noting that President Donald Trump’s ascendency and combative style have mainstreamed the practice of denying all allegations and attacking the accusers.
“Their only response to this is really to find other villains in the process to take the heat off of them,” said John Brabender — a GOP strategist and former aide to ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).
Moore and his camp have declared that The Washington Post and other media outlets are attacking them as part of a plot by Democrats and establishment Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Former talk show host Charlie Sykes acknowledges his own part in creating the media bubble from which conservatives get all of their news, effectively walling themselves off from viewpoints they find objectionable.
“These alternative-reality silos — not only do they reinforce an ideological message, but they can be impenetrable,” Sykes said to The Atlantic.
Sykes decried the “nightmare scenario” unfolding in Alabama, saying, “You have credible journalism being attacked and ignored amid a flood of misinformation and bizarre propaganda.”
Having hosted a conservative Milwaukee-area talk show for years, Sykes said conservative talkers need to come to grips with the role they played in training their audiences to rule out facts that don’t jibe with their beliefs.
“The trust in the media was already at a low point and by Trump constantly going after the media, it’s further eroded faith in the media and has actually activated people to be against it,” said Republican strategist and former RNC spokesman Doug Heye to Gray and Coppins. “That’s part of the tribalism we see in our politics, the erosion in all capital-I institutions.”
“I think we should be horrified by the monster we helped create,” said Sykes.