This is a follow up to my post about Kevin Drum's uncritical acceptance of the notion that the people who listen to talk radio or watch Fox news choose to do so because it protects them from accusations of racism. Kevin's argument, and that of the researchers he quotes, is that conservatives are people who are fearful and resentful of rejection because their viewpoints can be caricatured as racist.
My argument below was not as explicit as I would like it to have been. Kevin thinks conservatives retreat from accusations of racism. I postulated that they choose to congregate in areas where they feel safe and unchallenged. But I think its also important to argue that people get sucked in to another interpretive web regardless of their original beliefs. I'd argue that Kevin's researchers don't actually demonstrate that people start out conservative or racist and that for all we know, people start entertaining and accepting hate media and Fox news and then get sucked in and owned by its worldview which, being paranoid and xenophobic, then starts them on a downward spiral that prevents them from pulling out or critiquing what they are hearing. They don't start out having the experience of being "rejected" by liberal society or even necessarily having racist or conservative views-- they start out by listening to hate radio and learn to fear liberal society's rejection. In fact if you listen to Fox News and Hate Radio you quickly become aware that this is explicitly the message of these groups--that conservatives are a hated other to outsiders, that only within the tribe will you be safe. The truth value of these messages can't be challenged anymore than a paranoid's delusions can be challenged.
This is the argument made in a new documentary which I learned about over at Kos this morning. Kossack Leslie Salzillo writes:
Many of us understand the damage Rush Limbaugh, FOX News, and 'hate media' has done to our country in promoting racism, homophobia, misogyny and bigotry.They perpetuate lies and poison the minds of people who get sucked in, and use Right Wing media as the only source of news. Jen Senko is a filmmaker who watched the transformation of her father, as he slowly came to believe the extreme RightWing lies, and she's making a documentary about it. Here a personal note to me from Senko followed by the Kickstarter commentary:
"I was inspired to make this film after watching my father – a non-political Democrat – turn into a right wing fanatic after a change in his car commute exposed him to the reactionary shows on talk radio. The changes in his behavior caused me to research the changes in the media over the last 30 years – and the effect of those changes on the country was indisputable. As the media have been co-opted more and more by special interests, documentarians have become the new journalists. My hope is that after seeing my film, people will question what the media tells them, and hold them accountable."