I never thought I'd see a seditious mob of Americans sack the Capitol building as Congress counted electoral votes. But, then again, I never thought the president of the United States would turn out to be a malignant narcissist who lies about everything all the time. The insurrectionists who sacked the capitol were fueled by lies. One thing that struck me when Trump became president was how other Republican officials didn't seem to care all the much that he lied all the time. By the end of his presidency, practically the entire GOP was willing to enthusiastically embrace Trump's biggest lie yet: that he'd won an election he obviously lost. And, of course, right wing media was there the entire time, amplifying and spreading Trump's lies, whether they were petty vanities or outright seditious. Partisan bias is one thing. Blaring propaganda like a foghorn, completely indifferent to the truth, is different animal altogether. That's why I wanted to talk to my old friend Matthew Sheffield. Matthew was one of the founders of Newsbusters, one of the first conservative sites to devote itself entirely to the exposing liberal media bias and left-wing "fake news." At a certain point, the scales fell from Matthew's eyes and he realized that the mainstream media was at least trying to tell truth, but the right-wing media wasn't trying to do anything at all but stick it to left. I think the inside perspective is critical here. One of the biggest biases of the mainstream media is ignorance of the way the conservative media and messaging machine actually works. Matthew really knows what he's talking about. In addition to founding Newsbuster, he was the founding online managing editor of the Washington Examiner. More recently, he's covered the right and rightwing media for Salon, hosts a podcast called Theory of Change and has written a series of penetrating Twitter threads about the conservative media ecosystem that have earned him interviews on a bunch of radio shows as well as the New York Times.
NYT interview with Matthew Sheffield
How Right-Wing Media Fuels the Political Divide, On Point, WBUR - Boston
Host: Will Wilkinson (@willwilkinson)
Audio engineer: Ray Ingegneri
Music: Dig Deep by RW Smith