First the intro via Erick Erickson over at Red State:
I think conservative media is failing to advance ideas and stories. Certainly part of that is because the general media has an ideological bias against conservatives, which makes it harder for the media to take our views seriously. But many conservatives are, instead of working doubly hard to overcome that bias, just yelling louder about the same things. The echo in the chamber has gotten so loud it is not well understood outside the echo chamber in the mainstream press and in the public. It translates only as anger and noise, neither of which are conducive to the art of persuasion.
Conservatives are trying so hard to highlight controversies, no matter how trivial, we have forgotten the basics of reporting: W5 + H as I learned in grade school, also known as who, what, where, when, why, and how. I think conservatives need to reset some of their reportorial resources to tell the stories that need to be told by focusing on the facts at hand in a world view of the right. We need to establish a baseline for integrity in reporting that then allows us to highlight the truly outrageous. That baseline must be the basics of who, what, where, when, why, and how and it must be set before taking the next step into analysis of motivation and its implications.
If you’re a conservative who cares, make sure you go read the whole thing, because 1. it’s important and 2. I’m not going to rip the entire thing off from Erick. He makes a lot of points that I have wanted to yet have not been spurned to do so until now.
Erick is absolutely correct about accuracy. I pride myself on getting the facts right, to the point of being anal-retentive about some of the more minute and irrelevant details in a story. When I’m working on a new piece, I do my homework, and record and detail everything. The same skepticism applies to every new story out there where conservatives are being blamed. For some reason there is this tendency among conservatives to take a look at every media story out there, and weed through the details to figure out how they are the victim. They then take those bits of information that make their victim-hood narrative true and run with it, yelling oh woe is me. I really don’t understand it. It’s like the liberal media in reverse. Apparently some people enjoy being the whipping boy, wallowing in their seemingly ever-present misery.
I shouldn’t say I don’t understand it. I do get some of it. With election defeats, another four years of the Obama admin to look forward to, the Supreme Court punting on Obamacare, the Senate maintaining its Democrat majority, and the majority of the media seemingly always erring on the side of the liberal agenda, it’s enough for even the most uppity conservative to be put on suicide watch. If there’s one thing the conservatives do not have a shortage of its reasons to feel wronged. We have become the depressed girl with 1,000 ex-boyfriends who has yet to find love. I get it, you’re frustrated over the lack of conservatism wins. Join the club. But we have to take that energy and do something useful with it if we’re going to accomplish anything. Now let me tell you what not to do, and what’s not going to help.
First, stop the mindless frothing at the mouth. I get it, you’re upset. But unless you channel your anger and frustration and do something productive that is conducive to change, you’re blowing off a lot of energy for nothing and wasting everyone’s time. Too many conservatives have become the antonym of the unhinged left during the second Bush term. I see this on Twitter more than any place else. If every other tweet you send has the words impeach or Benghazi or Marxist in it, you’re doing it wrong. I can almost guarantee if you are sending those tweets the only people you follow and are following you are fellow conservatives who believe the exact same thing. Congrats on screaming in an echo chamber. The technique is about as effective as standing in front of your bathroom mirror screaming at yourself. You’re not accomplishing anything, so knock it off. Furthermore, if you’re only following people on Twitter you agree with, you’re also using Twitter wrong. It means you’re no better than the close minded liberal on the other side of the aisle. Being an informed conservative means knowing what everyone is saying, not just those you agree with.
The other behavior I see from a lot of conservatives is the eagerness to jump on every little salacious story that comes along without verifying anything. If it sounds like conservatives are the victim, then too many will eagerly jump on the victimhood bandwagon. Some prime examples: Walmart officials met with the Obama administration and are no longer going to order ammunition for their stores. Personally I thought this to be pretty idiotic from the get-go, but a number of people eagerly boarded the U.S.S. Victimhood and set sail without bothering to verify any of the facts pertaining to the story. As Winston Churchill famously said, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on. “Trust but verify” isn’t something that journalists (should) live by, but something all people, conservatives especially, should make a habit. If you want to call yourself the better educated side of the aisle, then you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Another prime example was the story that veterans were having their firearms rights taken away by the VA without just cause. Obviously this is a topic that is near and dear to me especially with my past run-ins with the VA and who I’ve been doing some writing for. I sent several unanswered tweets and messages to the people pushing the story asking for verification while everyone else seemed to be happily jumping on the outrageously outrageous outrage bandwagon. Eventually the record was set straight by Michelle Malkin on Twitchy, long after the ridiculous story had made the rounds all over the interwebs and people were sure it had to be true because conservatives were the victims once again. If you are one of those people, congratulations on being one step above a low information voter.
The common excuse I hear for this behavior is,”We just don’t trust this president and we wouldn’t put anything past him.” While I wish the White House press corps shared your skepticism, taking it to depths conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones would be proud of is no way to win hearts and minds for conservative movement. It just makes you look unhinged, fanatical, and nutty, and like I said earlier, accomplishes absolutely nothing productive. Stop looking for ways that you are a victim. The ways conservatives will twist and contort things to make themselves out to be the victim is utterly mind blowing sometimes.
So what should you do different? You can start by crawling out from under your rock and get out of the echo chamber. Yes, I know it’s a comfortable place where you’re surrounded by people who agree with you. But you’re not accomplishing anything, and you sure as hell aren’t winning any elections screaming the same things at one another. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back all you want, just don’t whine after the next election when low information voters reelect the guy on the other side of the aisle because Sarah Jessica Parker told them to.
Furthermore, preach civility, and practice what you preach. Stop hating people you disagree with. You don’t even know these people, how can you hate them? If there’s one thing that we can all take away from Breitbart’s legacy, its that you don’t have to hate people just because you have different opinions. Let the other side hate. It’s what makes us better. When the media fails to find unhinged right-wingers frothing at the mouth, it undermines their narrative that much more.
You need to get out of your house, get away from your computer, get involved in your local party politics, and get to know your elected officials. I know it’s scary, it requires you to meet new people, and get out of your comfort zone a little bit. But it’s how elections are won. Talk to your elected officials, even the small fish at the local level, including your mayor, school board members, and state representatives. If you call up your local state representative or senator, will they immediately know who you are and recall the last time you spoke? Mine will, because I get involved, make my thoughts and opinions known, and do so in a manner that is consistent with the conservative message. Even if you have the charisma of moss growing on a wet rock, be able to articulate your thoughts and ideas. Educate yourself. Read the news (from all sources, not just those you agree with), and pay attention to what’s going on in the world.
The constant victimhood nonsense needs to stop. Stop latching onto every half-bit story that comes along that paints conservatives as victims and running with it whether it’s true or not. The conservative movement is becoming that whiny kid who doesn’t want to try out in any sports because he says he never wins. It’s helping no one, and winning no new converts. No one ever decides to join the losing team. The other thing everyone needs to do is start verifying facts. Don’t just make it a point to verify the facts and get the story right for your own good, but make it a point to try and show up the media. Don’t let that “senior fellow” in their bio scare you, they are human beings just like everyone else and are capable of making errors. Anyone who has been paying attention has probably noticed a few occasions where the media ran with salacious details that painted conservatives in a negative light only to have it come back and bite them because they failed to do the basic journalism work (W5+ H) Erick Erickson mentioned above. Getting the details right when the media doesn’t not only strengthens the conservative message and creates a more informed group, but it helps hold our media accountable.
Now go. And stop frothing at the mouth.