Opinion

The blame-the-conservative-media fallacy

Photo of Jeff Poor
Jeff Poor
Media Reporter

Only in the delusional world of online journalism, a world saturated with narcissists fueled by Twitter followers and TV appearances, could one come to the following conclusion: The “conservative” media lost Mitt Romney the election.

That’s the new theory being advanced by one of this bubble’s occupants, BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins.

Coppins isn’t the only one with this theory. It’s become quite popular with The Daily Beast’s writers and MSNBC’s primetime anchors and guests, among others.

The problem is that it’s hard to believe that the people championing the blame-the-conservative-media mantra, who happen to have formed a cozy new coalition with the long-time detractors of conservative media outlets, really have the Republican Party’s best interests at heart.

Unfortunately, this has become a cottage industry that operates in predictable cycles.

Rush Limbaugh notes that these “wizards of smart” (as Limbaugh refers to them) perceive, or perhaps would lead you to believe they perceive, the conservative media as a threat to American democracy in Republican years and a dying fad headed toward irrelevancy in Democratic years. But somehow, 24 years after he first became a nationally syndicated talk show host, Limbaugh continues to draw a large audience, while newer conservative outlets like The Drudge Report and Fox News are stronger and more profitable than ever.

Now the conservative media finds itself in the wake of an unexpectedly bad election for Republicans, and darn it, someone must be held accountable.

It’s funny how this logic only seems to apply to the right side of the aisle.

In the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections, when Democrats lost 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate, you didn’t hear complaints about the out-of-control, openly partisan liberal media (not to be confused with covertly partisan liberal media). No one was writing three-chapter exposés on “why Pelosi lost,” blaming MSNBC, Chris Matthews and The Huffington Post.

That’s because no one seriously blamed the histrionics of Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann for the Republican landslide. So why are so many people blaming conservative outlets, from Rush Limbaugh all the way down to right-wing bottom-feeding bloggers, for Romney’s loss?

Romney lost for many reasons, none of which had anything to do with the conservative media. If anything, the Romney campaign was oftentimes distant from the conservative media. Even during the primary campaign, Romney was hesitant to appear on or give interviews to the friendliest of conservative outlets.