Scalia and the Right Wing Echo Chamber


One of the fascinating items in Justice Scalia’s interview with New York magazine was his admission that he deliberately avoids news outlets that he considers liberal and gets his news primarily from right wing talk radio. He only gets two newspapers, one of them the Washington Moonie Times.

What’s your media diet? Where do you get your news?
Well, we get newspapers in the morning.

“We” meaning the justices?
No! Maureen and I.

Oh, you and your wife …
I usually skim them. We just get The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times. We used to get the Washington Post, but it just … went too far for me. I couldn’t handle it anymore.

What tipped you over the edge?
It was the treatment of almost any conservative issue. It was slanted and often nasty. And, you know, why should I get upset every morning? I don’t think I’m the only one. I think they lost subscriptions partly because they became so shrilly, shrilly liberal.

So no New York Times, either?
No New York Times, no Post.

And do you look at anything online?
I get most of my news, probably, driving back and forth to work, on the radio.

Not NPR?
Sometimes NPR. But not usually.

Talk guys?
Talk guys, usually.

That explains a lot, I think. It explains how Scalia has gone from being, at one time, a serious conservative voice on the Supreme Court to being, quite frankly, a partisan hack. His rulings have more and more come to resemble right wing talk radio diatribes rather than serious legal opinions.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    That explains a lot, I think.

    I dunno. The cause-and-effect may not be that easy. It may be that Scalia is turning into a rightwing hack (assuming that there was a time that he was a serious thinker) and as result he is finding non-rightwing media more and more discomforting. It probably is part of a self-reinforcing feedback loop, though.

  2. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    That [J. Scalia’s epistemic closure] explains a lot, I think. It explains how Scalia has gone from being, at one time, a serious conservative voice on the Supreme Court to being, quite frankly, a partisan hack. I agree this explains a lot.

    The people I know that are now in their 70s were not as delusional and partisan in the 1970s and 80s as they are now, so I do think the creation of conservative media has caused them to increasingly take indefensible positions. However, I also think conservative media also enables cultural acceptance for these people to publically express their fears and bigotries more stridently. So I suspect they were always determinedly ignorant bigots, but now feel freer expressing their bigotries and delusions. Where the negative attributes have also worsened because conservative media encourages people to follow them ever-deeper down the rabbit hole.

    E.g., in the Nixon era it would be hard to imagine evangelicals and fundamentalists would become the predominant group of global warming that provides the base to obstruct prescriptions climate scientists suggest we do. I was very befuddled in the late-1990s/early-2000s on why they swallowed the BS of denialists, there was nothing biblical that conflicted with accepting the fact humans have and are causing changes to the climate that are now and will be far more catastrophic to future humans.

    On the other hand we see conservatives losing the fight on society ostracizing gays and their families, except for conservative churches of course. Though they face a generational challenge to maintain their institutionalized bigotry. So some facts can still leak through in spite of their best efforts to maintain the false narrative they prefer over reality. The problem I still see here though is that conservative SCOTUS justices are typical conservative thinkers, and therefore will not accept what the Constitution has to say about equal protection under the law.

  3. uzza says

    I get most of my news, probably, driving back and forth to work, on the radio.

    Apparently all it takes is a long commute. Jen Senko is making a documentary about it “The Brainwashing of my Dad.”

  4. Pteryxx says

    http://www.salon.com/2013/10/11/fox_news_and_talk_radio_brainwashed_my_dad_partner/

    He didn’t like to waste time so driving and listening to talk radio I’m sure seemed “educational” to him. It was Bob Grant. Bob Grant was a bombastic, rude, openly racist and sexist radio host. And very slowly, my dad began to change.

    Then when he started listening to Rush Limbaugh, that was when I started getting worried. He hated Bill Clinton with a passion I thought was bordering on obsessive. As for why it happened, at this point I can only guess. Unlike my mother, he was easily influenced and seemed to respond to anything he thought was not fair or unjust. He was sort of naïve in a way—people would tell him a story and he would be a little gullible, because he had an open personality.

    So when Rush Limbaugh told him that poor people and Mexicans and blacks and feminazis were to blame for well, everything, he got mad too and took it up as his cause. He would get super-angry and bite the middle of his tongue and look like he was going to explode.

    Back in the day, the FCC used to have a rule called the Fairness Doctrine.

    What it was: The Fairness Doctrine, as initially laid out in the report, ”In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees,” required that TV and radio stations holding FCC-issued broadcast licenses to (a) devote some of their programming to controversial issues of public importance and (b) allow the airing of opposing views on those issues. This meant that programs on politics were required to include opposing opinions on the topic under discussion. Broadcasters had an active duty to determine the spectrum of views on a given issue and include those people best suited to representing those views in their programming.

    Additionally, the rule mandated that broadcasters alert anyone subject to a personal attack in their programming and give them a chance to respond, and required any broadcasters who endorse political candidates to invite other candidates to respond. However, the Fairness Doctrine is different from the Equal Time rule, which is still in force and requires equal time be given to legally qualified political candidates.

    […]

    In response, the FCC began to reconsider the rule in the mid-80s, and ultimately revoked it in 1987, after Congress passed a resolution instructing the commission to study the issue. The decision has been credited with the explosion of conservative talk radio in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. While the FCC has not enforced the rule in nearly a quarter century, it remains technically on the books. As a part of the Obama administration’s broader efforts to overhaul federal regulation, the FCC is finally scrapping the rule once and for all.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Not having lived in the DC area, I’ve never followed the WaPo very closely. The media critics I read, however, seem consistent in claiming that the whole paper took a swerve to the right when Reagan took office and started courting publisher Katharine Graham in a systematic charm campaign.

    (You’d think she would have met enough greasy-haired Hollywood gigolos to see through that, but clearly Ronnie’s wooing worked. Beltway culture apparently puts kissing up to power above all else…)

    That Scalia could endure reading the Post before his nominator pulled it rightward, but can’t handle it now, implies that his ideological journey went even further than theirs.

  6. gshelley says

    Seem to fit with hi somewhat petulant dissent in DOMA – that anyone who doesn’t agree with his irrational bigotry is just a big meanie, no matter how logical, coherent and fact based their arguments are

  7. Scott Hanley says

    Sigh. It says a lot about the man that he’s willing to tell the world that he doesn’t have the stomach to hear more than one side of an issue, and doesn’t even recognize what a disqualification that is for a judge.

  8. Karen Locke says

    A supreme court justice who gets his news only from right-wing media is scary indeed. Pity there’s no way to fire him.

  9. RickR says

    I don’t think I’m the only one.

    I’m noticing this sentiment a lot lately when I’m reading these quotes from right wing demagogues. Scalia even did it earlier with his nonsense about satan and hell. Apparently, it’s not enough to have an opinion and state it, you have to tack on “and a whole bunch of folks agree with me on this”. It’s a refrain that sticks out more and more to me.
    Funny, I don’t hear that much from anyone on the left. Usually, if you want to make a point about people who share an opinion, you produce poll statistics.

  10. fentex says

    I am now a middle aged man and I find myself at odds with myself increasingly often – my visceral reaction to ideas and news is often something that a moment later I recognize is not an opinion I’d expect to have.

    I am quite sure that there is a physiological change occurring in my person – that my unconcious mind is physically altering to be more fearful, withdrawn and self protective from the world – which I have to conciously counter-act by arguing fact and observation with myself.

  11. Nemo says

    The WaPo isn’t liberal, at all. This makes me want to show him Z Magazine or something, and watch his head explode.

    @Michael Heath #2:

    I was very befuddled in the late-1990s/early-2000s on why they swallowed the BS of denialists, there was nothing biblical that conflicted with accepting the fact humans have and are causing changes to the climate that are now and will be far more catastrophic to future humans.

    The argument, not biblical per se, but based on typical Christian ideas about God, is that things like the weather are simply God’s domain, and it’s arrogant to think that humans could even have that kind of power. Of course, I don’t think this view arises organically from Christian beliefs; I think it’s constructed (consciously or otherwise) in the service of corporate interests. As usual, the theocrats are stooges for the plutocrats.

    @fentex #11: So far, that hasn’t happened to me. But it does seem to match what I see in some people. I’d hesitate to ascribe it to a “physiological change”, except insofar as changes in thought always cause physiological changes in the brain, as well as vice versa.

  12. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    I was very befuddled in the late-1990s/early-2000s on why they swallowed the BS of denialists, there was nothing biblical that conflicted with accepting the fact humans have and are causing changes to the climate that are now and will be far more catastrophic to future humans.

    Nemo responds:

    The argument, not biblical per se, but based on typical Christian ideas about God, is that things like the weather are simply God’s domain, and it’s arrogant to think that humans could even have that kind of power. Of course, I don’t think this view arises organically from Christian beliefs; I think it’s constructed (consciously or otherwise) in the service of corporate interests. As usual, the theocrats are stooges for the plutocrats.

    You’re correct this is both a popular reason now and motivation for why. But this how they justify a position after they’ve submitted to denialism on this issue. This population now leveraging the Bible to support their denialism is an illustrative example of post hoc rationalization.

  13. D. C. Sessions says

    FWIW, I’m somewhat past middle age (not quite retired) and I find that getting my head out of a “must get the kids through school, must save for retirement, must … mode may not have made me more open minded, but sure didn’t hurt.

  14. raven says

    I am quite sure that there is a physiological change occurring in my person – that my unconcious mind is physically altering to be more fearful, withdrawn and self protective from the world …

    It’s not necessarily physiological.

    1. We’ve been through crisises before. I grew up during Vietnam and people were in the streets all the time. Nixon and Agnew were forced out of office and LBJ gave up for good reasons.

    They bothered me, but not that much even though sometimes I was one of those people in the street. I was young, footloose, all but immortal, and dead broke all the time, nothing to lose. Also ignorant of history and not realizing that yes, it can happen here. We led sheltered lives in the late mid 20th century.

    2. These days it bothers me a lot more. Because I have a whole lot more to lose. House, kids, cats, retirement funds, Medicare and Social Security on the horizon, job, and so on. If the USA goes down, I go down with it. And if it takes a few decades to pick itself up, so what? In a few decades I’ll be dead and it won’t do me any good.

    And ironically enough, after Bush ended our long nightmare of peace and prosperity, things have been picking up under Obama. Unemployment is down, housing back, economy growing, fewer dead soldiers and so on. And a group of christofascist morons can’t think of anything better to do than end it. They would rather destroy the USA than see Obama succeed.

  15. DaveL says

    I think they lost subscriptions partly because they became so shrilly, shrilly liberal.

    The Washington Post? Shrilly liberal?

Leave a Reply