Roger & Us


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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105 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    We might hope that in Ailes’ absence, the political world he started creating when he trained Richard Nixon to be more media-friendly will somehow recede. But more realistically, the genie he uncorked simply won’t ever go back in the bottle.

    After all, it’s not fair to lay the entire blame for either our hyper-polarized tribal polity or the outrage-leads-to-profit model of media, as both were around before that. It is fair to say, though, that Ailes was a singular figure in making those things mainstream and even respectable.

    The circle appears to be coming around to the starting point again: he got his start with media consulting for Richard Nixon and his last public endeavor was media consulting for the Nixon sequel, Donald Trump.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

      Well, the genie might not go back in the bottle, but we might start ignoring it. The business of selling fear and outrage has a big structural problem: People adapt. With fears, it’s called ‘systematic desensitization”. With outrage, it’s called “outrage fatigue”. Overall, I’ve heard the phrase “exposure therapy”.

      There’s a sucker born every minute, but if 1.1 suckers are wising up every minute, you’re still in a losing game. Are we there yet? I don’t know, but that’s my suspicion. I think we’ve hit Peak Troll in the last year or so, and it’s a downhill glide from here.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        I think, or at least hope, that actually getting what they say they want will prove an antidote to the desire.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Diane Sawyer also got her start with Nixon.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    There were always people like Bachman in American Politics and they could sometimes rise to power. I suspect their willingness to do so is out of sincerity. I have no evidence that the two you mentioned are grifters or frauds.

    I suspect Burt is right and the genie is let out of the bottle. It might rescind but that will take a generation or so.

    Though your essay raises the question of what it means to be conservative and I suspect that a lot of us saying Fox News killed conservativism are just on the left with a counter view of what conservatism means than self-described conservativesReport

  3. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    My time for dancing was when Roger was fired. I won’t celebrate his death, for the sake of my own mental health.

    I loved this piece, TodReport

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      Yes, I have to confess to more than a little schadenfreud at the spate of sexual harassment lawsuits and firings over at Fox and Friends.Report

  4. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction. – Clarence DarrowReport

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Mark Twain on Jay Gould’s death:

      “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”Report

  5. Avatar Nevermoor says:

    I’m not sure the difference is that politicians are more polarized, instead of that political polarization is now aligned with party.

    The only reason so much of the 50s-70s look “bipartisan” is because there were a huge number of right wingers in the southern democratic party (mostly because they still resented Lincoln) and a significant number of republicans in the north that aligned with northern liberals on some ideological grounds. It is also fashinoable to observe that this was a period of comity (and that’s true to some extent) but when your notable exception is as striking as McCarthy your argument is a bit of a stretch.

    Certainly our political culture is nowhere near as nasty as it has been at previous points in our country’s life.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Yes, it’s easy to forget how nasty things got in 1800, 1828, 1864, and 1912, because none of us were alive at those times. But the history is right there. And let’s not forget that the Constitution was peril in 1933 in a way that it simply is not in peril now. That’s not to say we don’t have a serious problem now, but the problem isn’t a Constitutional crisis and it isn’t the threat of a coup. The problem today is what to do when the voters make a really bad decision but then resent the checks and balances put in place to mitigate exactly that sort of circumstance.Report

      • Avatar Nevermoor says:

        If our problem is anything, it’s a decline in the Roman sense of getting so comfortable you rot away from the middle. Which is a potential risk, since we seem to care so much more about entertainment than competence these days, but one that is not imminent.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


          Like Paul Campos, I am amazed that Trump managed to survive so far. Anyone else would be destroyedReport

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            I think this is a bit of a strange perspective. We’re four months into his term!

            No one else would be in a position where people are saying, “How has he made it this long?” when they were four months into their term!Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            Anyone else would be destroyed

            By now, we understand well enough that, when someone on the Left uses the word “Destryoed,” what is meant by this is: A reason to high-five each other until the next picture of a cute kitten hits the internet.
            “Destroyed” has little in the way of consequence. Its venom is a milk-substitute for babies.Report

            • Avatar Nevermoor says:

              And on this we agree. Life is buzzfeed. Buzzfeed is life. We have always been entertained by cat gifs.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              You must talk to the wrong Leftists, then.
              Clinton, for all senses and purposes, has been destroyed, in power if not to the point of being sent to prison.
              The Left cheers.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I understand that John Oliver destroyed Trump a dozen times so far.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              You wouldn’t believe how many time Obama was destroyed. Apparently that was so easy it happened a handful of times per day on Fox.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I googled “Fox Destroys Obama” (in quotes) and found two links.

                One was to a youtube video that is, apparently, no longer available (O’Reilly appears to have destroyed Obama in the unavailable clip) and this link here.

                So that’s two. Like, make a peace sign with your hand. That’s how many hits I got. Google it yourself and see. Maybe you’ll get three hits this time, if it includes this comment.

                “John Oliver Destroys Trump” does better. Google it yourself and see!Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I’m remembering the many memes and pics my conservative cousins shared over the past many years. Obama ( and Maddow and Clinton) were destroyed into a fine powder many years ago.

                But if it makes you feel better to think it’s liberals who do all the silly “destroying” go for it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, I don’t have access to your memory.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Wait???….you caucused for Bernie. That should have given you all access to the single liberal hive mind that controls our actions and thought.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                That only told me how horrible Clinton was, as a candidate, and indicated how she was going to be destroyed.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                And, in the end, she was.Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              Not just Oliver, Fallon, Colbert and SNL have as well.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Like Paul Campos, I am amazed that Trump managed to survive so far. Anyone else would be destroyed

            Remember that line about how the GOP answer to every political and policy question is tax cuts? Same answer here.Report

  6. Avatar j r says:

    So to has been the rise of the Louis Gohmerts and Michelle Bachmanns of the world: people with no real professional or political accomplishments, but who are elevated to national leadership status by Fox and the Mainstream Media alike on the basis that they’re willing to say bats**t crazy things on television.

    This is correct, but it’s only half a story. Those folks get elevated in the conservative world partly because Fox elevated them, but part of the reason that Fox elevates them is because they are very good at engendering a level of opposition and hate from the left. The phenomenon of Fox News and conservative media isn’t just the story of a crazy person yelling in the street to no one in particular. It’s the story of an equally crazy conversation.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      The problems with the liberal media are well covered in DSM IV.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      I agree with this, except that instead of “the left”, it should be “everyone who isn’t batshit insane”. Which, admittedly, has significant overlap with the left, but I must believe that not everyone on the right are irretrievable lunatics.Report

  7. Avatar Damon says:

    I’ve not watched Fox news in at least a decades, so I’m not familiar with it’s claimed decline, but I will say, I was a big supporter of “sided” news. Everyone has a bias and “reporters” not shirking from that bias was refreshing, especially compared to the rest of the media, who have a bias but claim they don’t let it get through ’cause they are “professionals”. Ha!

    Fox news was always about money, a casual perusal of the show would suggest that it wasn’t aligned with mainstream conservative though all the time. More like “opposition media” when a dem was in power. Viewed that way, it had it’s place.Report

  8. Avatar J_A says:


    More like “opposition media” when a dem was in power. Viewed that way, it had it’s place.

    My memory of Fox News in the W years was of fawning approval and hero worship, and how Dems were traitors. Not really “opposition media”.

    The only subject I remember in which Fox has not been fully in synch with Republican “elites” (however those elites get selected) was gay marriage, which they preferred to ignore, but definitely refused to condemn, probably because they saw the writing in the wall.

    (This was a response to Damon’s 8:35 am comment. Apologies for messing the thread)Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      “My memory of Fox News in the W years was of fawning approval and hero worship, and how Dems were traitors. Not really “opposition media”.”

      Really? Sounds like good opposing side propaganda. Anyway, regardless, Fox news had a political perspective, at least in the early days. And if that position is “we are going to be reactionary, so be it.

      The point is and was they it presented a different side than the side presented by the MSM. That alone, made it significant.Report

      • Avatar J__A says:

        The point is and was they it presented a different side than the side presented by the MSM. That alone, made it significant.

        Significant they are indeed. But significant does not mean correct, or even useful to society.

        The MSM also does not present the idea that the Earth is flat. Flatearthers will surely find it significant that a (large) media vehicle would present their theories without skepticism (“Shape of the Earth in dispute. We report, you decide!”). But ii the media gave a platform to flat Earth theories it would cease being “reporting” and would just become a PR machine.

        Climate change is happening; the Iraq War was going really bad in W’s day; the mines will not be reopen; what HRC did with her emails might have been (was) politically imprudent, but it does not meet the legal definition of gross negligence needed to prosecute; and so on. If your preferred media is telling you otherwise, you are being conned by them.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          This. There is definitely a place for an “opposition” news source, one that reports the facts, but is skeptical about groupthink and comes from a different, but intellectually consistent, perspective.

          I mean, besides Al Jazeera. One that speaks to USan conservatives, but aims at informing rather than reinforcing.Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          I was unaware that the purpose of media outlets was 1) to be correct and 2) of use to society. Perhaps you can explain why the MSM seems to get the facts wrong so often on numerous reporting and isn’t condemned? The purpose of media is to report news and sell ad space. There are no value judgement in that purpose.

          Now, as to the flat earthers, I’m would be very interested in hearing their thinking and justifications for their beliefs, if only to understand where they are coming from. I have no problem with a media company interviewing their group. The same for climate change supporters and deniers. I actually LIKE the concept of “we report, you decide”. The media should be presenting facts and opinions to inform the viewers of the positions of various parties so the viewer can make an informed decision, if needed, on policy issues. Sadly, most reporters have difficulty hiding their obvious biases and have the habit of inserting their own opinions into the piece as well.Report

          • Avatar J_A says:

            I was unaware that the purpose of media outlets was 1) to be correct and 2) of use to society.

            Let’s not go down a hole on what the definition of media outlets is. MTV is a media outlet that does not have to be correct about anything, though anyone that showed “My so called life” has forever proved their usefulness to society in my eyes.

            For the purposes of this discussion, I want to focus on media that purports (promises?) to deliver factual (as far as it can reasonably determine) information. I welcome that they add opinion pieces to. They can say that HRC is a crappy politician, they can say she was imprudent (*), they can even say she will destroy Christianity in this country (Rod Dreher says so). But they ought not to say she broke the law, because she did not, because the law defines what gross negligence and wrecklessness is, and she was legally neither grossly negligent nor wreckless, not that Fox will ever tell you that. To say she broke the law is false. Worse, Fox News commentators (and Fox News management) knew that they were stating a falsehood on air as they did it. They were conning their audience, which brings me to….

            The media should be presenting facts and opinions to inform the viewers of the positions of various parties so the viewer can make an informed decision, if needed, on policy issues.

            So says an illustrious world thinker that will remain anonymous

            I’m interested too in knowing why flat earthers believe what they believe. I’mhappy to hear a report that says “We interviewed the Flat Earth Society and here are their views on the shape of the Earth. However, we should tell our audience that the shape of the Earth has been fully determined, and is not at all flat, but rather an spheroid. Attached please find the picture Apollo X took in 1969

            (*) I’m not sure if she was indeed imprudent. So far we don’t know if her server has been hacked. We know that the DoS’ was Perhaps she was being overtly cautious.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              You take a thumb drive off government property with classified documents, you go to jail.

              Man, if I did half the fucking stuff that Clinton did, I’d have gone to jail for a looong time.

              We’re talking HRC, who took Documents off Government Property. Documents that wound up in the hands of multiple spies for multiple countries, BECAUSE she took them off Government Property.

              I don’t give a fuck if they were classified or not. She hired foreign spies. That’s reckless conduct.

              She deserves to be in jail nine ways to Sunday.Report

              • Avatar J__A says:

                We’re talking HRC, who took Documents off Government Property. Documents that wound up in the hands of multiple spies for multiple countries, BECAUSE she took them off Government Property.

                And we know that this is a fact -that they ended in the hands of multiple foreign spies- how? Just because Fox News commentators said they did?

                Because the FBI has never said this happened (only that there was a risk that some, not that many BTW, could hypothetically have, if they were hacked in HRC’s server, as opposed to being hacked in the DoS, which -it is a fact- has been hacked.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                I don’t watch FoxNews.
                Huma has admitted to allowing her then-husband to print them out.
                The FBI has his laptop, with documentation on the documents.

                Where did you think Israel got the documents — a full year before the FBI did?

                Passing State documents to Israel, by the way, is treason. We lock people up for that. This isn’t Japanese-style espionage, these weren’t public documents available for all.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              “For the purposes of this discussion, I want to focus on media that purports (promises?) to deliver factual (as far as it can reasonably determine) information.”

              OK. So, if we’re having this convo, are we establishing a bar on how much “wrong facts” are necessary to be outside this discussion? Because I’ve read/hear enough blatant errors by MSM reporters over the last 30 years to wonder if, indeed, they care much for the actual facts, or are too lazy to do fact checking. I’ll grant you 100% of your claims about Fox for argument sake, because I’ve not watched it in a very long time, and all your examples are more recent than a decade ago.

              “So says an illustrious world thinker that will remain anonymous” Thank you for your compliments!Report

              • Avatar J__A says:

                I’m not defending the MSN is general (except for MTV, since they showed “My so-called life”, the best TV series ever). I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that they are lazy

                We were having a Fox News related conversation, and Fox News’ratio of alternative/correct facts is way higher than most – Just as if they really didn’t care about facts, but cared about getting eyeballs, all other things be damned.

                Fox News would as happily spout fake pro-liberal facts instead of conservative ones, if they saw a better market in doing that. See Exhibit 1 (hyper liberal Fox TV network) for further confirmationReport

              • Avatar Damon says:

                “Fox News would as happily spout fake pro-liberal facts instead of conservative ones, if they saw a better market in doing that. ”

                I think we can agree on this 🙂Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Wouldn’t that same thing apply to most news organizations?Report

              • Avatar J__A says:

                It would, yes

                What makes Fox News different (significantly different), is the ratio of alternative/factual facts that they present

                The conservative orientation is not the problem. The willingness of (knowingly) distort facts while pretending to present “news” to accommodate the prejudices of their viewers is what’s troubling. It would be as troubling if they did it in pursuit of a liberal agenda (actually, in pursuit of the money wallets of liberal, instead of conservative, viewers).Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Perhaps I’m too cynical, but I don’t think liberals would mind if Fox “did it in pursuit of a liberal agenda (actually, in pursuit of the money wallets of liberal, instead of conservative, viewers).” After-all, preaching to the converted always works well, especially if you add a dash of hubris and “in crowd” tone.Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor says:

                If that’s true, then why doesn’t the market provide equally-dishonest liberal networks?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Don’t be so sure it doesn’t. Cenk had someone blatantly lying on air during election night coverage, and not a WORD about it. (Surveillance video got pulled to document this.)

                And these liberal networks? Taking money from Clinton to promulgate her opinions and lie about her likelihood of winning.

                Silver too.

                The only honest pollsters were working the free market and getting paid handsomely for their accurate predictions.Report

              • Avatar J__A says:

                The fact that I had to goggle who (or what) Cenk was, and that I still have no clue who “The Young Turks”are – if they are not the 1908-1918 group that seized power in Ottoman Turkey (before the invention of TV),- because I didn’t bother to click the link, means that no, Cenk and Fox News are not levorotary and dextrorotary versions of the same thingReport

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                And Nate Silver — you’ve heard of him?
                Or shall I judge you completely ignorant and henceforth ignore you?

                Might I mention CNN who put Amanda Baggs on television, claiming that she was autistic (and incapable of speech), when she scored well enough on the SATs to go to the Center for Talented Youth summer camp?

                Reporters don’t exist anymore. I do know publicists, and they write the articles that the reporters slap their fucking names on.

                I should tell you the story of eBay someday.Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor says:

                I reject a sophomoric podcast as being part of the universe under discussion, whether or not you’re right about there being lies there.

                Silver was notable for his pessimism on HRC (he had her at 2/3, PEC had her at 99%). Odd sign of being bought and paid for (a charge you support with nothing).Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                And my further comment about CNN not doing a whit of fact-checking?

                Do you really want me to explain how I know this? Very well, I know a guy who signed up to help Jeb Bush’s campaign with fundraising…
                “Now, I know you know Barbara, and I know you know that she’d be disappointed if you didn’t help her son…”

                The true numbers on Trump winning were 70/30 or so, and that’s pulling a person by person poll. Surprising how chatty people are about stuff like how they’re gonna vote, isn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Maybe it has…..Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                it does help if you cite your sources, instead of just using baseless insinuation.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                My “source” is 30 years of observation and listening to MSM.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                And with all that, you can’t even cite one fucking example of lies?
                Seriously, dude.
                Hell, I put one on the table above, and followed it up with the general Clinton bribery to boot.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                It’s it’s not self evident to anyone at this point, citing one or two examples isn’t going to convince.Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor says:

                I bet all the MSM networks AND “liberal” networks put out less dishonesty each and every day combined than Fox does all by itself.

                But I’m open to being persuaded otherwise.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                You do know where Fox broadcasts from? Rhymes with Sixth Avenue and Rockefeller Center.

                I catch about three minutes of it a week in a donut shop while the wife fixes her coffee. There are times I swear that the left watches more right wing stuff than the right does.

                I know North reads more RedState than I do.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                “I bet all the MSM networks AND “liberal” networks put out less dishonesty each and every day combined than Fox does all by itself.”

                Kinda redundant. MSM = “liberal” networks. Regardless, I have no intention of trying to persuade you of my POV. There’s no value add in it, and I’m certainly not going to start watching either in an attempt to prove you wrong. That would be worse!Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                It is only redundant because conservatives have redefined what the term “mainstream” means.

                From what I’ve seen, only very recently has Fox relinquished its spot atop the cable news ratings and that is primarily due to Trump. Conservative talk radio hosts remain among the highest rated of all radio shows.

                These are facts that the conservative outlets themselves constantly remind viewers/listeners of.

                And yet they frame themselves as somehow outside the “mainstream”. How is that? Why is that?Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Kazzy, I think the word “mainstream” pretty much has it’s own definition. I will agree that it’s used as a proxy for “the major news outlets”, but even then I don’t see that as a problem. Those news orgs drive the news trends and what’s generally reported on since “the important media” are reporting on them.

                And the primary news outlets are by far more liberal than conservative. I wasn’t able to find any cable news shows vs broadcast news % of audience stats, but IIRC, cable news still is a very small amount of the total.

                Oh, sure, talk radio is different, and I’ve seen many reports discussing why it seems impossible for liberal talk shows to gain traction. I presume it’s because it’s not needed. There’s tv news for the liberal view, or the local/regional papers, or FM radio. Shall I go on? 🙂Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                So what is the definition?Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                c/p from wikipedia.

                “Mainstream media (MSM) is a term and abbreviation used to refer collectively to the various large mass news media that influence a large number of people, and both reflect and shape prevailing currents of thought.[1] The term is used to contrast with alternative media which may contain content with more dissenting thought as they do not reflect prevailing opinion.

                The term is often used for large news conglomerates, including newspapers and broadcast media, that underwent successive mergers in many countries. The concentration of media ownership has raised concerns of a homogenization of viewpoints presented to news consumers. Consequently, the term mainstream media has been widely used in conversation and the blogosphere, often in oppositional, pejorative, or dismissive senses, in discussion of the mass media and media bias.

                According to philosopher Noam Chomsky, media organizations with an elite audience such as CBS News and The New York Times, successful corporations with the assets necessary to engage in original reporting, set the tone for other smaller news organizations which lack resources by creating conversations that cascade down to smaller news organizations using the Associated Press and other means of aggregation. An elite mainstream sets the agenda and smaller organizations parrot it.[1]”

                You can insert “liberal or left leaning” relative to reporter’s biases and general perspective of where the articles are coming from if you wish.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                How does that NOT apply to FNC or conservative talk radio?Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                First off Fox news, compared to the other media outlets is small in reach or it was the last time I watched cable news. AM radio? Please, it covers red state rural areas.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                You’re full of shit. Later. None of what you said here is true.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Oh, Kazzy. There you go again.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                When facts are not on your side, you’re reduced to the shit you offer.


                (A little dated but best I could find.)

                So FNC is in as many homes as pretty much any cable news network and enjoys gangbuster ratings. Yet plays the victim card of “We’re outside the mainstream” because of the idiocy that is “Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.”

                By the definition you offered, FNC is a mainstream media source. Saying otherwise is disingenuous.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                I tried to find viewership stats for the CBS, NBC, ABC, and the various cable news channels but never found it together, that was free. But IIRC cable’s viewership, in total is a lot lower than broadcast. (this may have changed since my date is stale) so Fox having the lion’s share of cable news when compared to the “big three” is less significant.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Business Insider

                I saw no comparison of cable to network news.
                That would be interesting.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                So is CNN mainstream?Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                I’m referring to your sad but constant need to curse. It neither impresses nor intimidates me.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Slate Star Codex recently had an essay on “Neutral vs. Conservative” in an attempt to explore why someone like Ailes could come into a market and immediate have such a huge hit news grift going on when it’s such an obvious wheelbarrow full of crap to anybody else.

    So my take on the Ailes thing is this:

    We’re never going to have it as good as we had it with him ever again.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      The problem with Alexander’s essay is… typical of the problems with his essays, which is that, in the final analysis, he neglects roughly half the strategies the mainstream institutions have tried. Sure, they may ramp up the anti-conservatism, but they’ve also tried ramping it down, too, and that doesn’t work either.

      People want trustworthy institutions. For the most part, institutions that liberals feel they can trust, conservatives can’t, and vice versa.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Sure, but the dynamic of “neutral” vs. “conservative” is one that I’ve seen in a handful of places and I think that it’s fairly obvious when it comes to The Media.

        We’ve had the “liberal media” argument ad nauseum on this site and the best argument that made sense to me relies on familiarity with the “personal racism vs. institutional racism” debate and the analogy of how the argument always swings to defenses against personal racism.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Oh, I’m not saying that the dynamic doesn’t exist, I’m saying that the solutions that Alexander is advocating have also been tried, and they don’t work either.

          And I expect our different perspectives on debates around racism do, probably, align well with our different perspectives on non-conservative institutions vs. conservative institutions.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Well, this gets us back to Schelling’s Model of Segregation.

            The institutions are, eventually, going to find themselves creating a stable equilibrium.Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              Institutions always evolve to serve the interests of those who make most use of its services, just like ruts wear into a dirt road.

              There are many things that can be inferred from this insight.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            @jaybird @pillsy

            It also raises the question of why conservatives can’t trust neutral or liberal institutions and the answer seems to be that it does present stuff conservatives don’t like.

            The neutral media says you can’t make offensive statements about Jews or People of Color or LBGT people and women get stay in the workplace or not on their own choices. And then science says climate change is real and we need to do something and maybe cut back on our way life.

            So sometimes these pleas come down to concern trolling because it is telling liberals to shut up on these things.Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              What neutral news media? I wasn’t sure that such a thing exits.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              I am the furthest thing from a neutral observer, so I think a huge part of the reason that conservatives find it difficult to trust non-conservative [1] media outlets is that conservatives routinely want completely ridiculous ideas to be treated with unmerited respect. And yes, of course I would think that.

              Still, I can’t help but remember how, during my early adulthood, I frequently saw folks on the right assert that dismissing and mocking the idea that the Earth is a few thousand years old was a sign of awful bias. A lot of the time it wasn’t even that the people complaining were themselves Creationists, but they saw Creationists as part of their tribe, so of course they had to be defended.

              That particular shibboleth seems to have gone the way of the dinosaurs who drowned in the Flood, thankfully, but the damage is done and the distrust remains.

              [1] Alexander’s “neutral” phrasing strikes me as unhelpful.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I think a huge part of the reason that conservatives find it difficult to trust non-conservative [1] media outlets is that conservatives routinely want completely ridiculous ideas to be treated with unmerited respect.

                I think that’s a huge part of it too. Which of course leads right into the role evidence, coherence, and understanding the subject matter play in justifying a view, all of which are things conservatives increasingly reject as having any merit whatsoever. One person one vote, right? (And that’s true!)

                That’s not to say all conservatives are anti-evidence or ignorant. More that conservatism has been increasingly dummied down in recent years. What passes as that type of conservatism is exactly what we’re seeing on DC over the last three and a half months: tax cuts and dysfunction.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                I am not even talking about that kind of stuff but there is a throwback quality to a lot of Fox News stuff is old school macho stuff. Part sex appeal (women in short skirts) and part racist jokes and old school Mad Men style talk.

                So CNN might not be liberal in my eyes but it is more professional which means no to frat asshole jokes.

                So when I hear people like Scott Alexander, it does sort of come across as “liberals just let them have their racist jokes.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                So when I hear people like Scott Alexander, it does sort of come across as “liberals just let them have their racist jokes.”

                I think we took different messages from SA’s post. Mine was that if you don’t let them have their racist jokes those jokes will get even worse. The last bit is the important part.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                We don’t have any say over anyones racist jokes. We can’t allow or disallow them their jokes. We can not like it and criticize it but we don’t’ have control. The other obvious point is that it is easy for a bunch of white dudes to say that we should “allow” those racist jokes. Lot’s of AfAm’s take those things seriously and they don’t give a flying fork whether white dudes think we should just be cool about it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’m not sure what you’re arguing here, greg. Did you read the Slate Star Codex piece?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Yeah i’ve read the SSC piece. It’s fine, he usually makes good points. You said if we don’t’ allow their racist jokes then things will just get worse. That is what i’m responding to.

                He says we shouldn’t try to get “their” campus speakers tossed. My preference would be just to ignore speakers i don’t’ like. But i understand what AfAm’s would loudly protest Chuck Murray.

                Conservatives didn’t really just simply leave the MSM. Conservative media gave them something they wanted more. Even a truly neutral, high quality MSM never had a chance compared to a media that would cater to them.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                You said if we don’t’ allow their racist jokes then things will just get worse. That is what i’m responding to.

                No, I said Alexander’s view is that excluding people who make those jokes will make the jokes worse: it creates a selection dynamic which reinforces out-group identity. I think he’s right.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I think he is right about the out group dynamic but that doesn’t cover all the issues. If Reddit says no more racist reddits and boots them , those people will gravitate to a place with a far higher percentage of racists. True enough. However that is still their choice to bath in the racism instead of hearing the complaints of the people they are joking about.

                There is an element of treating the joke tellers as not having choices of their own to make. They aren’t simply reactors to what is done to them with no volition. They are choosing to follow Coontown to it’s new home. They are fully autonomous humans who choose to say what they say. Treat them like that. They don’t have to choose that out group. Many will but each has a choice.

                But what about in a work place or a family or a group of friends? Saying no more racist jokes at work or at family picnics because we will have POC’s there or people who are deeply offended is a different. It is placing the needs of the offended over those of the offender. The people who want to tell racist jokes can go do that is a safe place but in some places they need to not be dicks. That isn’t creating an out group dynamic as much as it’s promoting a better environment for the targets of the racist jokes.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I think the narrow focus on bigoted jokes sorta misses Alexander’s point, to some extent, but also exemplifies it as well, I suppose.

                But what about in a work place or a family or a group of friends?

                He actually talks about this in his article: the “Resist Trump!” (or whatever it was) sign someone placed in the breakroom where he works.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                I disagree with the outgroup dynamic as well because it seems to be another way Scott is just expressing sympathy for the fascist.

                The ingroup and outgroup thing cuts both ways. Surely minorities are outgroups too. Our good doctor wrote about the homophobia he experienced in med school recently on Slate. Why isn’t that being part of an outgroup?

                Instead you have a lot of people going around saying stuff like “You know by objecting to me calling you a “Money grubbing Kike and teaching my kids that Jews have horns and are the Devil’s spawn, you are showing yourself to be a real bigot.”

                And then you have the Should Know Betters defending statements like the one above. You have Conor F gently chastising liberals with stuff like “Don’t punish people for a faux paux.” He never says what is the dividing line between a faux paux and an objectionable comment though but I suspect the bar is high.

                And I agree that sometimes privilege talk can go too far but honestly fuck making bigots and authoritarians feel like persecuted martyrs with the outgroup identity. It really does feel like the dialogue is like this:

                Liberal: People should not be attacked because of their sexual identity.

                Right-winger: You hate my website that says homosexuality is the devil’s thing. Why are you such a bigot? Why can you tolerate everything but the outgroup?

                Scott Alexander and the Should Know Betters: Hmmm that far right wing dude is not going away and I think we just need to suck it up and I like the outgroup thing. We are the real bigots.

                Fuck that shit.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I don’t think Scott is expressing sympathy for the fascist at least in the way you are saying it. He, and you to some degree, are oversimplifying all the dynamics. Like i’ve said about Scott’s essay he commits a classic error of psychology of picking one dynamic to explain a complex behavior. People have choices and are pushed and pulled by many things.

                I agree with Conor F that people shouldn’t be punished for FP’s. And it is difficult to tell the difference between a faux paux and something more serious. It takes the people in the situation to listen and talk to figure that out. There is no over arching way to say who is right or wrong. We shouldn’t chase away a person who makes a mistake and apologizes. We can all screw up or say stupid things.

                The person who may have made a faux paux though needs to be able to listen and open up to making changes. If a person is fairly confronted with having said something offensive but refuses to hear or think or maybe even apologize then that is on them. If people don’t want to be around them that is a natural consequence which they still have the option of thinking about and changing. If they do things that piss people off then complaining that people don’t want to be around them is childish whining.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                I got that bit too but it doesn’t make it right. And Greg has a point, a lot of people take these jokes seriously and they are not funny if you are black or gay or Hispanic or Jewish.

                Basically, what is it about conservatives that makes them suck so much that their actions and thoughts get worse if they can’t tell bigoted jokes.

                The infuriating thing is that there are a lot of people I call “should no betters.” They aren’t bigoted themselves, they don’t tell bigoted jokes, but they feel compelled to defend the bigots or soft-peddle apologia for bigoted jokes. People like Scott Alexander and Conor F at the Atlantic are Should Know Betters.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                And Greg has a point, a lot of people take these jokes seriously and they are not funny if you are black or gay or Hispanic or Jewish.

                He’s not arguing that it’s morally right or wrong, he’s trying to identify a dynamic. I read it as purely descriptive stuff, granted with moral implications (but not in the direction you and greg are arguing).Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Scott is good about explaining and using psychology which is sort of odd for a psychiatrist since they are usually nuts. ( just kidding, well sort of)

                This is a shorter version of what i said above. There is far more to what drives people then picking out the out-group dynamic he notes. The out group part is fine but people are far more complex then that one simple dynamic. They make choices, they grow, they learn they have choices. They aren’t controlled by the out group thing even if it is a useful description of a real thing. They can listen to the approbation for incessant racist joking or whatever and think about it. They can learn or change or talk or watch streaming channels called How to gas a kike. ( yeah that is a channel on a streaming site i watch Star Trek vids on)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                They make choices, they grow, they learn they have choices.

                Yes, exactly. Which led to the creation of Fox News and Reddit spin offs and gamer gate and so on. Those folks have learned they have choices, just not the choices you want them to make.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                The choices i wanted them to make!? WTF. They can make whatever choices they want. Freedom man, freedom. They make their choices, i make mine. Hell i don’t make the choices they want me to make. Never have. Never believed in God like they wanted me to, never loved Reagan like i was supposed to, never learned to love cats like they wanted ( ok that is only my wife, but still hasn’t happened), never learned to give a hoot about country music or wearing the flag on every darn thing like they wanted. I don’t drive a pick up like Good Alaskans should or wear camo. I’m a real disappointment. They must be shaking their heads over me.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Which shows that the problem is cultural in origin – specifically, political culture – and has little to do with the actual news and reporting per se. IOW, the dynamic which created Fox News arose from (and of course accelerated) a fragmentation of popular culture into binary camps: with us or agin us. One good example to highlight the point might be the issues surrounding AGW: conservatives were/are more inclined to be skeptical or reject evidence and conclusions of climate change because it runs counter to so many of ideological and normative commitments they hold. Because of that media outlets which moreorless insist that climate change is real (what Scott Alexander might call the neutral view) are viewed by conservatives as exposing themselves as having a liberal bias. Cuz from the conservative pov, they do! Same with so many other issues. So it seems to me the divide is broadly cultural: people want their news to plug into and in some sense confirm their culturally determined identities, and that means spinning facts to fit a narrative or denying facts altogether. Of course, there is a bit of bootstrapping going on here, since the media/culture nexus isn’t static and each element necessarily informs the other. Given that, if there’s a criticism of Fox News which I think holds up objectively it’s that while the daytime news shows present actual news based on facts in the world with a conservative-leaning bias, the night-time shows are almost entirely a form of fact-free and fact-denying propaganda. And in its heyday, prior to the demise of O’Reilly anyway, those shows drove the cultural wedge even deeper, even further distancing their viewers from anything like a shared concept of neutrality regarding facts and events.

        {{And now we have Trump.}}Report

  10. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    My mother is an avid Fox News watcher. I’ve hardly ever seen it, mostly because I don’t watch TV very often and we don’t have it in Canada anyway. When I visited her last year, I watched it quite a bit and I was struck by the sense that it was not conservative boilerplate, as I’d imagined, but just weird narratives offered as an alternative to whatever else was being covered. For instance, when I called her last night, we got to talking about Trump, who she voted for, and I asked her, “I know you supported him, but do you actually think he’s doing good?” Instead of responding, she said “I think Hillary would be worse! Did you know she just had a DNC staffer murdered?!” It’s just this whole other world of stories.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      It’s the National Enquirer of network news.

      I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

      Not unrelated:
      How much pee in the pool does it take before it becomes just pee?Report