Bashing the Conservative Media

I have seen a variety of articles and editorials taking the conservative media, primarily FOX News, to task for its overenthusiastic reporting on a landslide that never materialized. And that’s fair enough. But when you have an entity called “Conservative Media” or “Liberal Media” then the bias is baked in. It would be nice if we had a genuinely independent media, but no such thing exists.

Conservative media predicted a Romney victory. Liberal media predicted an Obama victory. Both sides were doing their jobs, which wasn’t journalism, but activism. The outcome fit the narrative of one side. And it wasn’t our side. Next time it might be the other way around.

Activist media select facts that fit their narrative. Nate Silver and the rest of the gang found themselves in a situation where the facts fit their narrative. If the facts hadn’t, they still would have reported the same thing.

It’s a shame that the situation has come down to this, but nevertheless so it is.

The Point did not traffic in any grand landslide predictions, but most conservative sites did. There was a collective enthusiasm momentum. Similarly there was a lack of enthusiasm on the other side, but a reasonable certainty that they were going to win a close election.

Did the hyper-enthusiasm on the right actually depress our turnout with many deciding that Romney was going to win anyway? It’s an interesting and troubling question.

So what went wrong? Many of the conservative experts were still running on a Romney momentum that had broken with Sandy, the November Surprise of the election. They didn’t pause when the numbers began to dip, but kept on going. They also underestimated the political machine and overestimated the enthusiasm of the base as being wide enough to move millions more to the polls who stayed home. They let their passion get the better of them.

There is a difference between selective reporting and reporting things that are made up. As with all bias, the line is slippery. The liberal media went from slanting coverage on Palin, to falsely reporting statements that she never said. Similarly there is a difference between looking at indicators favorable to Romney and making up a Romney landslide.

FOX News, for all the heat it’s taking now, has done an excellent job of investigating Benghazi. Benghazigate is a reminder of why we need an outlet with deep pockets and professionals like FOX News out there. But Benghazigate is also a reminder of the slippery slope of media bias. I chose not to run certain reports on Benghazi that were not sourced by anything credible, including the claim that General Ham had been fired for trying to intervene, which was sourced from an anonymous comment on an LSU fan board. Many conservative outlets did run that story. Many more ran a claim that the Benghazi consulate had warehouses full of weapons that were being run by Ambassador Stevens to Al Qaeda, based on speculation. The Point did not go with it, but I’m sure that the next time I post on Benghazigate, there will be comments claiming that’s the real story. And maybe it is… but not until there’s some actual proof for it.

We all make mistakes. We all have our blind spots. Being human we often see what we want to see. Many of us wanted to see a Romney landslide. I certainly did, but I didn’t believe it was coming and tried to prepare people ahead of time with caveats about losing the election.

I would have been happy to be wrong. Unfortunately I wasn’t. Maybe next time I will be and I look forward to that.

For the moment, take it easy on Michael Barone and Dick Morris and the rest of the gang. They got it wrong, but they’re not the ones who made the mistakes that got us to this point. They could have done a better job of reining in their enthusiasm, but mainly they saw what we all wanted to see. Lost in the desert of Obama, we wanted to see hope for the future and faith in our fellow man. It was a mirage, but maybe next…. it won’t be.

  • Ar'nun

    Just because something isn't Liberal doesn't make it Conservative. This is the big false narrative being pushed. FOX News is Republican, not Conservative. Just like the Republican leaders, they are Republicans, not Conservatives.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      FOX News has sizable doses of both.

      • John

        Daniel , how were the final numbers on the winner of the popular vote ? In the end did Romney still have that edge ? – P.S You do really good work – Thanks , it makes deciphering what's going on a whole lot easier – keep it up !

      • Ar'nun

        Who? O'Reilly? Hannity? Krauthammer? They are Republians, maybe Social Conservatives, but not Conservative completely. O'Reilly keeps putting a bunch of anti-Israelie bigotd like Buchannon on. Don't be fooled Daniel they aren't like us.

      • Ar'nun

        When Professor Groseclose did his research showing media bias, he made a point to show it wasn't what or how they reported news that made the media Liberal in nature, it was what they didn't report. FOX, yeah they are better than most, but in any other reality they would be Centrists at best.

  • Johnconrad

    Dan,

    The were fighting the last war. Had the Obamabots not had a hold of their electorate like a Chicago mayoral election, Romney may have won.

    They changed the playing field – likely for good.

    Freedom lovers need to respond. Our pundits were fighting the last war.

    Don't be too tough on them. They'd have been "right" any year prior to 2008.

    JD

  • Ron Lewenberg

    Some of the commentators and hosts like Sean Hannity or Mike Huckabee were talking of a Romney landslide. Most commentators were talking about a narrow race one way or the other. And given the margin of victory, they were correct.

  • http://navygentleman.com/political Navy Gentleman

    Do your own research and don't depend on the media to provide you with 'accurate' information.

    Then vote!

  • http://twitter.com/Kriskxx @Kriskxx

    I was fooled because of all the reported 'experts' lined up with a Romney win. For me, the clincher was factitious Michael Barone, I respect his analysis to the extent I would bet my life on his numbers! So shoot me! Shoot me now! Also respect Rasmussen, get his email updates, http://www.rasmussenreport.com/ his spread was 1 point in favor of Romney, however, to off set stealing, a wider spread was needed, at least 3 points.. On top of it all, to find out couple million Republicans stayed home! Just Sick and dumbfounded!

  • Ghostwriter

    And don't forget,Obama was able to convince a lot of people that his vision was right for America. For now,things look pretty difficult for conservatives. What we have to do is make conservatism more appealing to a broader base. I think it can be done but it's going to take A LOT of work. Also,if Obama fails to get the economy up and running,then it'll be unlikely that ANY Democrat will ever have the same appeal again. Conservatives may have failed this time,but we may have more success in the near future.

  • Mary Sue

    While I was hoping for a Romney win, I had this feeling in the pit of my gut that told me Obama was going to win. And while I hoped against hope, I knew in my heart my gut was right, and my gut proved right.

    Irony: When the Mainstream press makes an error, particularly a grievous one, it's a "mistake." If ANY Conservative news commentator, be they Fox News or any radio show host, makes an error, it's a "(deliberate) lie".

    Earth to people: A "lie" is a DELIBERATE deception. An honest error is an honest error. It's not a lie unless they KNEW the information was wrong at the time it was reported.

  • DailyKenn.com

    If the media anticipates a win, they have a responsibility to report it. That may come across as activism, but if it's honest reporting it's still fair game.

    Confirmation bias often directs our perceptions of reality. What is activism to one is objectivity to another.

  • Jim_C

    Yeah, "lie" is probably not the right word here. But the bubble in which biased media outlets wrap themselves will always be popped by reality. In this case, Fox gauged that what people wanted were comforting narratives and they provided them, denouncing anyone who said they were exaggerating (on Fox, the exceptions as usual were Bill O'Reilly and Chris Wallace).

    In the case of both Obama elections, people just couldn't BELIEVE Barack Obama would be elected! From the 2008 democratic primaries on, the media but particularly the conservative media were way, way off on predictions. The reason? It sure wasn't their data–it was that what they wanted so badly to be true just wasn't true–and vice versa. The first time, this refusal to accept reality spilled over into the birther nonsense and all the other bonehead rumors.

    The lesson? The media doesn't know much more than you do, but it has to pretend to, in order to generate content and keep their jobs. Such is 24/7 news.

  • chopper

    intrade had it right the whole time…………..60% obama 40% romney.

    it never swayed one way or the other………more than 6-8%.

  • Siara

    The Conservatives are much more at fault when it comes to spinning the news. They try to say that the left is just as bad….. but you don't see liberals having the kind of painful collision with reality that Conservatives had this week. There's a logical reason for that– the left lies less.

    Conservatives can get all haughty and pretend that they don't have the problem, but that will only result in the same thing happening again. They can't pretend the problem doesn't exist forever.