There are many smart commentators and outstanding journalists in conservative media, but just as there is truth to the narrative that many folks in the mainstream media and cultural elite have stereotyped conservatives as dumb hicks, it’s also true that vast segments of talk radio and conservative cable news engage in full-time, full-throated, unrelenting devotion to Donald Trump.
I’m not at all arguing that both sides are always equally bad. The fact that both sides on any given day can point to a particular online outrage (it’s a big country; somebody’s always being evil, somewhere), doesn’t mean that those actions are equally grave. For example, as a general rule, the actions and comments of the president of the United States are more consequential than anything “The Squad” has ever said or done.
But if you consume a media diet that almost exclusively minimizes or defends the actions of the president and maximizes the political crimes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Rashida Tlaib (or—on the other side— gets riled up over every Trump utterance while completely ignoring the outrageous way in which the Steele Dossier polluted American public debate), then it’s easy to see how attitudes harden. There is never a true reckoning that there are profound flaws in your own team, and without that reckoning, there is no humility in the public square—only ever-increasing ferocity, increasing polarization, and eventually the conclusion that your opponents aren’t just wrong, they’re evil.