House Speaker Paul Ryan crushed his primary challenger on Tuesday night. If you get your news from certain conservative media outlets, that came as a surprise.
One of the largest right-of-center news sites, Breitbart, told its readers that the race was closer than it actually was. Last month, Julia Hahn reported that Paul Ryan had plummeted to 43 percent in a poll. She also attacked Ryan a few days later using that same sham poll. In June, Hahn described Ryan as “running scared.” The week before the election, Matthew Boyle portrayed Ryan as on the verge of losing the race.
By the way, Paul Ryan narrowly defeated Paul Nehlen on Tuesday by a razor-thin 68 percent margin.
Breitbart’s epic fail in covering this race has led its competitors, such as IJ’s Benny Johnson, to taunt them:
Breitbart is far from the only conservative media outlet that’s living in a fantasy world. Instead of promoting conservative ideas to a broader audience, most of the big names in conservative media have built an echo chamber that’s immunized the right from reality.
Matthew Sheffield writes that conservatives have very little influence in the media landscape.
While it is true that Fox News Channel has dominated the cable news ratings for many years, the reality is that conservatives are extremely underrepresented in mass media, contrary to what wishful-thinking people on the Right and their Fox-hating left-wing counterparts imagine. Beyond that, it appears the reason Fox News is so dominant is that it has effectively cornered the market on Republican news television viewers, not because it is actually the most influential and respected TV news operation. In some ways, the literal reverse is true. …
The Left-leaning shows [on television] have more than 2.5 times the viewership of Right-leaning ones. …
Typically, in the TV business, most of the attention is on the average ratings for shows as well as their individual ratings but in order to really gauge just how influential a channel is overall, we should look at what is known as the “cumulative viewership,” the total number of people who tune into any show during a period of time (usually one month). Measured by this metric, CNN is actually the most popular channel, not Fox News. Numbers released for 2011 showed that CNN had a cumulative viewership of 99.4 million. FNC had 82.8 million and MSNBC had 80.7 million. In late 2012, CNN was still in front. Unfortunately, there is no later public data with these statistics.
Online it’s even worse for conservatives. The left still dominates social media and CNN.com receives far more traffic than FoxNews.com. Conservative media outlets are also largely distrusted by the general American public. Breitbart’s poor coverage of the Ryan race will only reinforce that sentiment.
Why is the left so dominant in media? It’s not part of an insidious conspiracy. According to Sheffield, it’s because conservatives do not invest in making their media mainstream like the left does. Instead they tend to appeal only to people who already agree with them and that in turn insulates them from reality.
There have been some exceptions to this trend such as the aforementioned IJ and those conservatives who choose to work in the mainstream media. There is need for right-of-center media that appeals to conservatives and helps popularize their arguments. But the current conservative press has become an echo chamber and it needs to be addressed.