The conservative entertainment complex

We like to be reassured that our beliefs are valid.  We gravitate to the news sources we prefer: the networks, MSNBC, Fox.

But sometimes we go too far.

A few weeks before the election, I saw a commercial for Bing Elections 2012, a Microsoft site enabling users to tailor the news to their own political beliefs.

Do you see anything wrong with this?

Opinion is opinion, and facts are facts. I belong to my own little group, and I believe what I believe; I groan when I read David Brooks and I giggle when I read Gail Collins.

But that’s not news. That’s opinion.

The idea that news – journalism – can be “tailored” to suit one’s political beliefs – well, that’s just repugnant.

Except that a good chunk of the electorate eats it up like ice cream, which creates all kinds of problems.

David Frum, late last week, spoke of the “conservative entertainment complex.” I knew immediately what he was talking about: the huge ungainly conglomeration of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, that feeds on itself and reassures itself that it’s absolutely correct.  It’s the conservative equivalent of that (imaginary) construct Sarah Palin herself named “the lamestream media.”

It’s not just opinion. It’s “news.” It’s Bristol Palin on “Dancing with the Stars.” It’s radio screamers like Rush and his local followers (Rhode Island and Massachusetts have their share of these, which I’m sure are mild compared to those in other parts of the USA.)  It’s Ann Coulter, the right-wing Lisa Lampanelli.

They all reassure one another (and themselves) that they’re right, and that they represent America. Not just part of America, mind you, but the whole thing. Anything that isn’t part of their world (the Conservative Entertainment Complex – let’s just call it the CEC from here on) is alien, non-American, un-American.

This leads to problems.

Here are a few:

–          Public polling in October and early November showed clearly that Barack Obama had a significant lead in swing states. No! the CEC shrieked. Impossible! And they created their own “polls,” which showed Romney in the lead. People who should have known better – Karl Rove, even Romney himself – believed those fake polls. And – guess what? – the fake “polls” were utterly wrong.

–          (Side question: why would the GOP want to lie to itself? I know that, as an Obama voter, the mere suggestion that he was behind in any state (not just my own) made me more determined to go vote for him. The GOP really shot itself in the foot with this one.)

–          It’s not just political theory that the CEC simplifies, it’s everything. Do scientists support global climate change? Then let’s vilify and ridicule scientists. Did Obama get Osama Bin Laden? Well, we didn’t want Osama that badly in the first place.

–          Do you see a black man outside a Pennsylvania polling place? According to Fox News, he’s a threat, a menace.

–          Are Hispanics a threat to America, or valuable potential Republican voters? Hmm. Not sure. Let’s talk about Hispanics  as if they’re unwelcome and highly suspicious, and then see how they vote. They’re Catholics, so they’ll vote Republican. Right?

And here’s another thing: studies have actually shown that liberals are more willing to explore other points of view. Conservatives are more likely to ignore opposing beliefs. Ergo: they know less about what’s going on in the world.


I read the Financial Times almost every day. It’s the British/international version of the Wall Street Journal, except it’s far more free-wheeling. I read conservative and liberal editorials every day. Also I read journalism that’s very unbiased.

It refreshes me.

Kids: read everything. Watch everything.

Don’t let the CEC (or its liberal equivalent) tell you what to think.

Think for yourselves.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to The conservative entertainment complex

  1. John says:

    Hmmm. I’m skeptical of that study in your post. I really am.

    As an ex-liberal I have found that conservatives – those above 35 at least – are not up to date with pop culture, be it celebrities, the inner thoughts of entertainers, what’s being hyped in the tech world etc. In that sense they are unfamiliar with what’s going on. Besides that, I will say I am impressed by their knowledge of history and retrospect.

    Now, for the liberals that I have known and encountered, they are likely to dismiss, in a very condescending tone, Fox News, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck etc. Not only that but there’s a lot of self loath amongst the liberal crowd that I have encountered.

    • I find it difficult to do anything but “dismiss, in a very condescending tone” people likie Beck and Palin. They have nothing to say, and they say it very loudly.

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