The Right-Wing Recipe

The way conservatives have promoted stupid ideas on social issues to become the dominant narrative in the news is simple and interesting…and horrifying.

  • Start with a cranky, bigoted idea that few people like.
  • Create a group with a catchy name that does sound like something they’d like: Moms for Liberty, for instance, or The American College of Pediatricians. They sound sensible and reasonable, right?
  • Find your few fellow like-minded cranks and bigots, and get them to sign up for your group. All it takes is a few to seed your cause.
  • It used to be that you’d fire up your fax machine, but nowadays it’s even easier: get on Facebook. Facebook lets any ol’ crap get through.
  • Start spamming the media with press alerts. Eventually, some gullible newspaper or television network — like Fox News — will invite you on. You’ll find more cranks and bigots.
  • Eventually, a billionaire — a demographic that’s particularly rich in idiots — will find you and throw money at you, and you’re a success.

It’s been happening. The anti-choice movement in this country is driven by a small number of cranky zealots who have mastered this recipe, as illustrated by The American College of Pediatricians.

A small group of conservative doctors has sought to shape the nation’s most contentious policies on abortion and transgender rights by promoting views rejected by the medical establishment as scientific fact, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post that describe the group’s internal strategies.

The records show that after long struggling to attract members, the American College of Pediatricians gained outsize political influence in recent years, primarily by using conservative media as a megaphone in its quest to position the group as a reputable source of information.

The organization has successfully lobbied since 2021 for laws in more than a half-dozen states that ban gender-affirming care for transgender youths, with its representatives testifying before state legislatures against the guidelines recommended by mainstream medical groups, according to its records. It gained further national prominence this year as one of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit to limit access to mifepristone, a key abortion drug.

They’re a tiny group, barely qualified to pontificate on the subjects they promote, and is dominated by ideological opposition to abortion, birth control, homosexuality, and trans care. That’s the glue that holds them together, rather than an honest medical consensus.

Records from early 2022 show membership of the American College of Pediatricians at about 700 people — just over 60 percent of whom self-identified as possessing medical degrees, including some holding prominent positions as hospital chiefs and a state health commissioner. The group, citing privacy, would not comment on the size or makeup of its membership.

It’s a religious organization.

Joseph Zanga, founder of the American College of Pediatricians, who had led the American Academy of Pediatrics in the late 1990s, described the splinter organization as “a Judeo-Christian, traditional-values organization” in a 2003 interview with the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, which promoted conversion therapy. His organization’s core beliefs are “that life begins at conception, and that the traditional family unit, headed by an opposite-sex couple, poses far fewer risk factors in the adoption and raising of children,” he said at the time. Zanga declined a Post request for an interview.

They followed the Right-Wing Recipe, though, and got picked up by the worst of the worst of media, convincing audiences that they are legitimate and credible, when they are not.

The group found an eager audience through conservative media, including the Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham shows on Fox News, the documents detail. Since 2016, the American College of Pediatricians has been mentioned in more than 200 articles published by conservative news sites such as Breitbart, Daily Wire, the Epoch Times, the Washington Examiner, the Blaze and the Gateway Pundit, according to a Post analysis. Its profile has continued to rise. The volume of articles mentioning the group during the first four months of 2023 was five times that of the same period in 2020, according to GDELT’s online news database.

“They’re part of a coordinated, politically motivated anti-science ecosystem,” said Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine and an expert in misinformation.

One more element to add to the formula: when their strategems are revealed and exposed, it is an attack on them, and they can then deploy the “silent majority” gambit.

“There’s a silent majority out there that stands with us,” she said. “This act has awoken a sleeping giant.”

The numbers may say they’re a loud minority, but they can always claim that the majority of Americans are with them, they just don’t say it aloud. This was also a popular excuse from the early days of the internet: “the lurkers support me in email,” even when they didn’t, but how could you check?


  1. says

    That’s like the most recent maga I faced off with. They went on about millions of others like them, instead of defending their own views. So what? You can’t speak for yourself and justify your dishonest terrible ways? You have to summon a mob? Yeah, you all have to summon mobs because that’s all you have.

  2. wzrd1 says

    What is hilarious is how many fundie Christian groups trumpet Epoch Times, an organization of conspiracy theorist, far right, anti-pretty much everything not them, created and operated by Falun Gong, a new religion “faith” that’s prohibited in the PRC, where it originated and is decidedly also against Christianity, being a competitor for money – erm, power.
    Thereby further supporting the theory, “There’s a sucker born every minute”.
    Basically, a mixing pot of eastern faiths ideas that got thrown into a pot, mixed into an unrecognizable mess of doomsday crap and as a feature, equates homosexuality with organized crime. Anti-communist, anti-leftist, antivax, anti-factual conspiracy theorist, pretty much the antimatter of reason. Yeah, a religion, because one cannot have enough bullshit.
    But, a good match with the American College of Pediatricians, a group of scammers that have very, very few physicians as members.
    Because, if you can’t dazzle then with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit until the check clears.
    Save for one fly in their ointment, the donors are starting to catch on to their scams.

  3. Allison says

    What these “controversies” are good for is to cover up the fact that the proponents either have no concrete proposals or they do, but they know that they’d be dead in the water if anyone noticed them.

    And it seems to work.

    In places where the plutocrats have taken over, life for the overwhelming majority (99%? 99.9%) has gotten visibly worse, but the voters vote for them anyway, because they’re all riled up over the Right’s bogeymen of the moment, which is all they hear about.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Allison @ 3
    In Britain they foolishly slayed the boogeyman (EU membership) and people started to notice it was all bullshit.

  5. raven says

    The actual professional organization for Pediatrics is the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    American Academy of Pediatrics
    Founded in 1930, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a professional membership organization of 67,000 pediatricians committed to the optimal …

    The fundie xian group has

    …the American College of Pediatricians at about 700 people — just over 60 percent of whom self-identified as possessing medical degrees,

    Compare the two.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has 67,000 members while the American College of Pediatricians has 700 members.
    This is a nearly 100-fold difference.

    Whenever the American College of Pediatricians comes up, all you have to do is point out they don’t speak for all Pediatricans. In fact they are a tiny minority of 1% who are openly biased right wingnuts and they are a hate group.

  6. says

    It’s a religious organization.

    And, obviously, a political organization. What it is not is a medical organization, despite its name.

    “There’s a silent majority out there that stands with us,” she said.

    Yeah, that pre-dates the internet, actually, as I suspect you’re aware. Richard Nixon was using that very term back in his first term as president. He was also known for inventing little old ladies he met on the campaign trail who asked him the softest of softball questions.
    Then there was that supposed “Moral Majority” many of us remember so well from the eighties.
    I am the proud owner of a button that says “THE MORAL MAJORITY SUCKS,” as well as a genuine McGovern button from the 1972 election. Nixon’s landslide victory that year might make you think the right-wing did have a majority at that time, but presidential politics are never that simple. And, I must point out, the Nixon gang still felt the need to cheat, which suggests that maybe they just do that as a matter of habit, majority or not.

  7. raven says

    The American College of Pediatricians doesn’t actually have any influence and they aren’t leaders.

    All they are is cover and an excuse.
    The people who use them already are anti-abortion and anti-Trans and they just make up lies, cite Fake papers, and claim support from professionals and citizens that doesn’t exist.

    They’ve done it with tobacco use, climate change, the Covid-19 virus denialists, antivaxxers, etc..

    With the Covid-19 virus pandemic, the antivaxxer group American Frontline Doctors had actually maybe 12 doctors.
    Meanwhile the vaccination rate of MDs was 97%.
    Physicians were a high risk group for getting Covid-19 virus and dying because…they were exposed to and treating Covid-19 virus patients.

    In fact, before the vaccines became available, thousands of health care workers caught the virus and died.

  8. hillaryrettig1 says

    100% I’ll never forget marching in one of the giant reproductive rights marches in DC in the 90s(?) There were many tens of thousands of us, and at one point we passed Randall Terry, one of the leading anti-abortion activists. He was literally standing on a box shouting with a handful of supporters around him.

    Yet the press gave both sides equal time, and they interviewed him w narrow camera angles so you couldn’t tell he and his group were just a handful of losers.

  9. says

    This is how theocracy works, and has always worked:

    Everything is to be recast and implemented in furtherance of the Article(s) of Faith. It matters not that the “thing” being recast at any one moment (in this instance, “scientific-medical basis for medical care of pre-adults”) is entirely independent of, and even orthogonal to, the Article(s) of Faith. It matters not that the purported rationales within the “thing,” and internal consistency with the “thing”‘s own precepts, are at best unrelated to the Article(s) of Faith, or even completely inconsistent with the Article(s). Theocracy demands orthodoxy and universal compliance, and all methods in pursuit of that are appropriate!

    What’s that? Important call from a Mr Bruno on line 3? I’d better take this; even consulting-only sharks don’t get holidays…

  10. mikeschmitz says

    hmph…My Right Wing Recipe:

    Slather them up with garlic Aioli and put them in the airfryer for 15 Min.

  11. wzrd1 says

    I marinade mine in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, onion, kefir yogurt, coriander and perhaps some thyme, paprika as desired. Marinade for an afternoon, bake until 160 F (71 C) near the bone.