How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File
NOV 7 2012, 6:30 AM ET
Nate Silver was right. His ideological antagonists were wrong. And that’s just the beginning of the right’s self-created information disadvantage.
Before rank-and-file conservatives ask, “What went wrong?”, they should ask themselves a question every bit as important: “Why were we the last to realize that things were going wrong for us?”Barack Obama just trounced a Republican opponent for the second time. But unlike four years ago, when most conservatives saw it coming, Tuesday’s result was, for them, an unpleasant surprise. So many on the right had predicted a Mitt Romney victory, or even a blowout — Dick Morris, George Will, and Michael Barone all predicted the GOP would break 300 electoral votes. Joe Scarborough scoffed at the notion that the election was anything other than a toss-up. Peggy Noonan insisted that those predicting an Obama victory were ignoring the world around them. Even Karl Rove, supposed political genius, missed the bulls-eye
. These voices drove the coverage on Fox News, talk radio, the Drudge Report
, and conservative blogs.
Those audiences were misinformed.
Outside the conservative media, the narrative was completely different. Its driving force was Nate Silver, whose performance forecasting Election ’08 gave him credibility as he daily explained why his model showed that President Obama enjoyed a very good chance of being reelected. Other experts echoed his findings. Readers of The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other “mainstream media” sites besides knew the expert predictions, which have been largely born out. The conclusions of experts are not sacrosanct. But Silver’s expertise was always a better bet than relying on ideological hacks like Morris or the anecdotal impressions of Noonan.
Sure, Silver could’ve wound up wrong. But people who rejected the possibility of his being right? They were operating at a self-imposed information disadvantage.Conservatives should be familiar with its contours. For years, they’ve been arguing that liberal control of media and academia confers one advantage: Folks on the right can’t help but be familiar with the thinking of liberals, whereas leftists can operate entirely within a liberal cocoon. This analysis was offered to explain why liberal ideas were growing weaker and would be defeated.