Political commentator Charlie Sykes whose career in talk radio has ended attempted to define Trump supporters and how they hurt the conservative movement in an appearance on Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter. He said Trump supporters have isolated themselves in the “safe spaces” of “political ghettos.” Sykes, an MSNBC contributor, is the author of a new book called ‘How The Right Lost Its Mind.’
Sykes also said the NRA has turned themselves into a “far right-wing media company,” a term Stelter used in a reference to a column the author penned for The New York Times.
“We generally have segregated ourselves into these intellectual ghettos, the alternative reality silos, which I know that you have written and talked about before,” Sykes said. “And I do think that that is getting worse. All of the trajectory of the media is for us to be more divided, to pull back into our corners, to go to the safe spaces where our biases are confirmed, where our narratives are pushed, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
“I think this goes back to the nature of the conservative media,” Sykes told Stelter. “One of the surprises to me was the willingness of many people in the conservative media to roll over, to abandon long-held conservative principles and to embrace Donald Trump. Whether they did it because they were playing some sort of eight-dimensional chess, like Rush Limbaugh, or whether they were doing it like FOX News, because they had blundered into it, look, frankly, at this point, Brian, this is the business model of the conservative media, that they understand that conservatives are still behind Donald Trump.”
“And a lot of people on the right just simply — they look to conservative media as — and I mentioned this before — as their safe space,” he said. “They don’t want to hear things that rattle their confidence in this administration. And I think that it’s very, very difficult. I’m a former conservative talk show host. And I try to imagine what it would be like to be doing the show now with an audience that frankly does not want to hear it.”
“So, I do think there are true believers out there. There are the orange Kool-Aid drinkers out there. But there are some people who I think have just cynically made the decision that if they want the clicks, if they want the rating, if they want to be able to stay within that conservative tribe, there’s only route. And that is to be a Trump rationalizer and defender,” Sykes said.
Transcript, via CNN:
As soon as you saw the video, as soon as you heard the sounds you knew, the sound of so many gunshots, the screams of so many concertgoers, you just knew somewhere deep down inside that the casualty count was going to be unbearable. And now, one week after the attack in Las Vegas, these crosses, these memorials are now lining the Strip.
The conversation is all about guns — gun violence, gun safety, gun rights. The National Rifle Association, whose executives are all over TV now.
And my next guest says the NRA has really turned gun policy issues into a culture war issue. Quote: The debate over guns has become a subset of a larger cultural clash that pits us against them, liberals versus normal Americans. Normal in quotes.
Normal American Charlie Sykes joins me now. He is if author of the excellent new book, “How the Right Lost Its Mind”.
Charlie, has the NRA turned itself into a basically far right wing media company?
CHARLIE SYKES, AUTHOR, HOW THE RIGHT LOST ITS MIND: Well, first of all, good morning, Brian.
Yes, I think this is one of the key things is that the NRA is no longer strictly about guns and gun control, and they turned the issue from being about, you know, whether bump stocks, or this regulation or that regulation. They really have made themselves central to the culture war and tribal identity on the right. I think this is an important thing to understand, which is why they are injecting themselves into all sorts of issues, including, the NFL players, because this has now become a key issue of cultural identity. And it’s one of the reasons why the Republican Party and Donald Trump are not going to break with the NRA anytime soon.
STELTER: What about the idea that, in your book, you present this idea that increasingly, there’s a lot of folks between the conservative movement who are immune to information from the mainstream?
Is that affecting the conversation this week in the wake of Las Vegas?
We — we generally have segregated ourselves into these intellectual ghettos, the alternative reality silos, which I know that you have written and talked about before.
And I do think that that is getting worse. All of the trajectory of the media is for us to be more divided, to pull back into our corners, to go to the safe spaces where our biases are confirmed, where our narratives are pushed, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
STELTER: I notice on page 103 of your book here — your excellent new book out this week — you say, what you just said there, all of this is likely going to get worse.
And I found myself — I had to put the book down that moment, because it gets very depressing to think we are going to be even more siloed, even more walled off.
Why are you fundamentally pessimistic about this?
SYKES: In part, it is because we have created this ecosystem now where if you are a conservative — and, by the way, these exist on the right, as well as the left on both sides.
But we have developed almost an immunity to this. Sorry. We have broken down our immunity to false information, hoaxes, and propaganda.
STELTER: Immunity is a really interesting word, an immunity to false information.
SYKES: Right. Yes.
And because that was …read more