El Rushbo’s Beautiful Struggle

Charlie Pierce has a righteous rant about Rush Limbaugh’s latest contribution to our national discourse. It’s worth your time.

This makes me think, though, of a broader problem with the way that partisan media conducts itself. By my count, this problem afflicts “conservative” media far more than “liberal” media, because of the positions that these “sides” generally defend, but it’s a problem in general. El Rushbo, of course, is no fan of the president. So when he sees something that makes the president look bad and makes Rush look right, he jumps on it. We all do this. The fancy psych term is confirmation bias. Putting it into real terms, it’s the fact that people like to be right.

You could see this dynamic at work during the Tea Party protests, if you want an example from “liberal” media. There would be some yahoo with a sign that depicted Obama as a witch doctor or something dumb like that, and MSNBC and parts of the blogosphere would shriek, “WE TOLD YOU SO WE TOLD YOU SO THEY’RE TOTALLY RACIST!!!!11” This reaction never takes into account the fact that even if a few of the TP peeps are racist, doesn’t mean the entire group is, in addition to the fact that they don’t know if the person with the sign even actually believes that crap or is just trolling liberals, which conservatives really, really like to do. Proving racism is, in my mind, a pretty tough ask, but because these commentators already believed it, they were eager to jump on any slight evidence as ironclad proof of their assertion.

Same deal with Rush. Now, there is a big difference in degree here, because there is some indication (even if it’s sporadic and not definitive) that the Tea Party is racist has racial resentment problems has strange views on race has some interesting views w/r/t race (that’s the best way I can put it right now). Obviously, there is absolutely no evidence that Obama has anti-Christian tendencies outside of El Rushbo’s drug-addled skull.

But because media “conservatives” SO WANT to be right and tend to posit absolutely idiotic, unempirical world views, I think this problem afflicts them much worse than it does “liberal” media. They’re more apt to jump on to a story and yell “HAH SUCK IT LIBERALZ!” without doing the slightest semblance of fact-checking. This happens to be a particularly egregious instance of this kind of behavior, because even in the strange world that many pundit “conservatives” inhabit, the LRA is just not defensible. In any way whatsoever.

But yeah, this is the kind of thinking that produces crap like the Shirley Sherrod “scandal,” the ACORN “scandal” and by far most hilariously, Ed Morrisey making a complete and total ass of himself. They just so badly need to be right about the Kenyan socialist Islamosexual that’s in their White House, facts and restraint be damned.

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