[…] Like its fellow mega-platforms Twitter and Facebook, YouTube is an enormous engine of cultural production and a host for wildly diverse communities. But like the much smaller Tumblr (which has long been dominated by lively and combative left-wing politics) or 4chan (which has become a virulent and effective hard-right meme factory) YouTube is host to just one dominant native political community: the YouTube right. This community takes the form of a loosely associated group of channels and personalities, connected mostly by shared political instincts and aesthetic sensibilities. They are monologuists, essayists, performers and vloggers who publish frequent dispatches from their living rooms, their studios or the field, inveighing vigorously against the political left and mocking the “mainstream media,” against which they are defined and empowered. They deplore “social justice warriors,” whom they credit with ruining popular culture, conspiring against the populace and helping to undermine “the West.” They are fixated on the subjects of immigration, Islam and political correctness. They seem at times more animated by President Trump’s opponents than by the man himself, with whom they share many priorities, if not a style. Some of their leading figures are associated with larger media companies, like Alex Jones’s Infowars or Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media. Others are independent operators who found their voices in the medium.
To the extent that these personalities challenge their viewers, it’s to commit even more deeply to what their intuitions already tell them is true — not despite those opinions’ rejection from mainstream liberal thought, but because of it. Theirs is a potent and time-tested strategy. Unpopular arguments can benefit from being portrayed as forbidden, and marginal ideas are more effectively sold as hidden ones. The zealous defense of ideas for which audiences believe they’re seen as stupid, cruel or racist is made possible with simple inversion: Actually, it’s everyone else who is stupid, cruel or racist, and their “consensus” is a conspiracy intended to conceal the unspoken feelings of a silent majority. Trump has developed an intuition for this kind of audience cultivation; so have countless pundits, broadcasters, salespeople and politicians of different populist political stripes. But Zack Exley, in his final analysis of B.P.S., points to an especially apt historical parallel: conservative talk radio. “Fixated as they are with Fox News,” he says, “liberals, scholars and pundits have failed to give talk radio — which is almost wholly conservative — its due, even though it’s now nearly three decades old and reaches millions each day. They now stand to miss a new platform that, so far, is also dominated by the right wing.”
Last night on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver delved into something that it’s usually more pleasant to stay far, far away from: Alex Jones and Infowars. Instead of just showing the usual clips of Jones spouting conspiracy theories, John Oliver’s segment on Alex Jones explored the collection of strange products that Jones, or as Oliver dubbed him, “the Walter Cronkite of shrieking batshit gorilla clowns,” sells on the Infowars website.
In one of his four-hour long broadcasts, Jones complained about John Oliver just taking his words of of context. Oliver, then, segued into his main segment of the night by pledging to do exactly the opposite. “People are right,” Oliver said, “That people don’t present [Jones] in his full context. So tonight, we’re going to do that.”
Oliver then dedicated quite a lot of time and energy to showing that rather than just lecturing people on the evils of chemicals in tap water, Jones actually lectures people about the evil chemicals in tap water and then pivots right around to selling products meant to get rid of those chemicals. “If you play small clips in isolation, he looks like a loon,” Oliver said. “But, if you play them in context, he looks like a skilled salesman spending hours a day frightening you about problems like refugees spreading disease and then selling you an answer.”
Here’s the full segment of Megyn Kelly’s interview with right-wing talk radio host and conspiracy kingpin Alex Jones of Infowars. An interesting enough piece but there’s no mention of the role Matt Druge played in elevating Jones to his current position. Also included is Alex Jones’ response where he plays clips of the pre-interview phone call between himself and Megyn Kelly. (NBC News/Infowars)
- Megyn Kelly’s Alex Jones interview got lots of attention, but not many viewers
- Alex Jones’ Former Wife Says ‘He Looked Like A Moron’ During Megyn Kelly Interview
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- What NBC’s Alex Jones Interview Says About Megyn Kelly
- The Truth About the Megyn Kelly-Alex Jones Cage Match
- NBC’s Megyn Kelly Problem
Alex Jones backed down. Again.
The far-right conspiracy theorist agreed Wednesday to settle a defamation lawsuit filed against him by Greek yogurt manufacturer Chobani. The key component of the settlement agreement required him to retract inflammatory comments about refugees and the company he made on his Infowars broadcast last month.
“During the week of April 10, 2017, certain statements were made on the Infowars, Twitter feed and YouTube channel regarding Chobani LLC that I now understand to be wrong. The tweets and video have now been retracted, and will not be re-posted,” Jones said. “On behalf of Infowars, I regret that we mischaracterized Chobani, its employees and the people of Twin Falls, Idaho, the way we did.”
It marks the latest blow to Jones, who in March apologized and issued a retraction to a Washington, D.C.-based pizzeria for his broadcast’s role in pushing a false story about a child sex ring that involved Hillary Clinton.
It’s almost 11 a.m., with three minutes to go before his program goes on the air. It’s a chilly 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the air-conditioned studio, but Alex Jones is sweating. He wipes his forehead and goes through the day’s schedule.
His employees have found a number of magnificent outrages, says Jones, scandals that should have been exposed long ago. They include the alleged “secret plans” of major Internet companies to block conservative websites, and the “truth” about the radioactive contamination at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. “Jesus,” Jones says with a groan, “where should we start?”
The screens light up behind him. A small red light starts to blink. Three, two, one, cameras on, filming. “We are live,” Jones says into his microphone. “It is Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, and the Democrats are melting away like a bunch of mentally ill children.”
No, Jones is not an ordinary radio host. The founder of the Infowars website has been living in his own world for the last 20 years. It’s a world of clear friends and clear foes, filled with intrigues and scandals, cover-ups and conspiracies. Jones is convinced that the global elites have formed an alliance against the United States to destroy the country. He disseminates this message five days a week on the Alex Jones Show, broadcast from Austin, Texas. His show is aired on more than 100 radio stations, and his website reaches millions of Americans.
During a live broadcast of The Alex Jones Show on Feb. 5, Alex Jones confessed that he is “ready to die for Trump.”
The radio host is known for his conspiracy theories — including that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were an inside job and the government distributes chemicals to increase homosexuality for population control — and used his latest segment to declare his infinite devotion to President Trump and America. Jones effused:
Trump is so fire-breathing, so energetic, so cunning, so real, and he’s having results so amazing that it just makes me endeared to Trump – I’m ready to die for Trump, at this point. And I’m already ready to die for America, it’s the same feeling I have for America, because he is America, you’re America.
Jones said his reverence for Trump compares to the way he feels about the men and women who serve in the military and “lose arms or legs,” especially “compared to the average person who’s lazy and doesn’t care.”
[…] Mr. Trump understands that attacking the media is the reddest of meat for his base, which has been conditioned to reject reporting from news sites outside of the conservative media ecosystem.
For years, as a conservative radio talk show host, I played a role in that conditioning by hammering the mainstream media for its bias and double standards. But the price turned out to be far higher than I imagined. The cumulative effect of the attacks was to delegitimize those outlets and essentially destroy much of the right’s immunity to false information. We thought we were creating a savvier, more skeptical audience. Instead, we opened the door for President Trump, who found an audience that could be easily misled.
The news media’s spectacular failure to get the election right has made it only easier for many conservatives to ignore anything that happens outside the right’s bubble and for the Trump White House to fabricate facts with little fear of alienating its base.
Unfortunately, that also means that the more the fact-based media tries to debunk the president’s falsehoods, the further it will entrench the battle lines.
[…] Trump is not universally unpopular. Indeed, he has maintained the support of roughly the same number of people who voted for him. News stories about his followers depict people impressed with his unwillingness to reach out to his political opponents because they believe they were treated with massive disrespect for eight years by former president Barack Obama. They appreciate that Trump is doing to Democrats what they believe was done to them.
One can certainly argue whether Obama ever treated them with anything approaching the level of disdain that Trump displays toward people who oppose him. But that’s missing the point. That sense of persecution has been part of the conservative movement for decades. What’s different now is the extent to which Trump’s followers see a completely different presidency than the rest of the world sees. That’s because they are watching, reading or listening to right-wing media — and right-wing media is showing them a presidency that does not exist.
Former conservative talk-radio show host Charlie Sykes wrote a courageous op-ed for The New York Times over the past weekend that took a hard look at how so many people came to believe Trump’s lies and why they are so willing to accept what presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway has called “alternative facts.” Sykes put the blame squarely on the right-wing propaganda machine, which he was a part of for many years.
Abby and Robbie Martin discuss Trump’s first week in office carrying out several executive orders that violate human rights and the environment, namely the Muslim Ban which blatantly discriminates against millions of people around the world. (Media Roots)
Joe Rogan sits down with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and jiujitsu instructor Eddie Bravo for a lengthy chat about all manner of crazy shit. (Joe Rogan Experience)
Thom speaks with caller Paul in New Mexico about how media consolidation and Right Wing talk radio impacted the 2016 Presidential election. (Thom Hartmann Show)
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- Why the Right Wing Dominates Talk Radio Today
- Conservative talk radio in the U.S.
- RationalWiki: Conservative talk radio