Hey Katy Tur: It's Called The Right Wing Echo Chamber, Not 'Media Silos'

MSNBC’s Katy Tur and Axios’ Jim VandeHei managed to have a very long conversation about the effects of right wing propaganda without ever mentioning the words right wing propaganda. I guess I should quit being astounded by stuff like this, but it continues to amaze me how people in our corporate news media dance around naming just who exactly is responsible for turning most Republicans’ brains into mush.

Here’s the transcript of the beginning of their exchange from her show this Thursday, and notice the words that aren’t used here. At no time during the segment did either of them say the words Republicans, Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, QAnon, propaganda, or lies. They also didn’t name any of the people on the podcasts VandeHei was likely referencing, like Joe Rogan, Charlie Kirk, Steve Bannon, Michael Knowles, Donald Trump Jr., or Matt Walsh.

TUR: Let’s talk about media silos. I’m interested in your thoughts on this. We’re covering this trial. We’re trying to get to the truth of what’s happening, but there’s a question of who else is actually watching this, and in terms of the broader electorate, and what this means for November. I know there are people out there who have very strong opinions about this is a, you know, a game changer for November. This should be on top of minds of voters. They should be paying attention to this trial, while others will say the exact opposite. There’s a big middle out there.

VANDEHEI: Yeah, we’re in this really interesting moment, where, you know, you don’t have to go back that far, let’s say ten years, where most of us were looking at the world through a very similar piece of glass, and it might have been TV, it might have been cable TV, a couple of stations, newspapers, but we were mostly looking at the same reality. Over the last decade, that’s shattered into like 20 different pieces, and each one of those pieces defined by your politics, your age, maybe how much you make, what type of job you have and where you live.

VandeHei needs to go back a lot further than 10 years. Limbaugh started a lot of this and he was polluting our national airways back in the 80s.

VANDEHEI: And so you could be sitting at a table anywhere, and depending on the age and location of people around you, you might not be getting any of the same information on any given day. Like, if you’re spending the day scrolling through TikTok, the issues you follow, the people that you know, the people you trust, I wouldn’t even know who they are. I don’t use TikTok, and that person who uses TikTok might be sitting next to somebody who’s on Facebook or Instagram, who trusts a news source or an individual that that person, or I wouldn’t beware of either.

And what happens is that you have a whole lot of different people, many of whom are highly educated, it’s not because they’re not paying attention or they don’t care. They’re just living in totally different ecosystems and they’re not interacting with the same, even reality. And the real danger there is, that it’s very hard now, really other than like the Super Bowl, where you actually have a whole lot of this country watching the same thing through a very similar lens.

They’re not “ecosystems,” and it’s not a different “reality.” They’re being fed lies. Which was followed by him stating the obvious.

VANDEHEI: And I think, listen, Donald Trump has benefited from this. There’s a big chunk of his base that really only consumes content from podcasts that a lot of your viewers haven probably never heard of. Or, not just Truth Social, but other obscure, MAGA-like platforms, web sites, that would be wholly unfamiliar to them.

In those ecosystems, the way they’re looking at this trial, it’s ugh… he’s being persecuted, not prosecuted, right? They look at it like this just Biden is animating it all, and it just gets them more fired up, you know. And there’s another side which looks at this for what it is, a real case, and, you know, a serious case being brought against a former president, and there’s a real legal case. There’s a jury.

And so that, I think, explains why there’s so much confusion and often a big lack of trust in what is real. And that’s what scared me most over the last couple of years. It used to be people that just weren’t paying that close of attention who believed weird stuff. Now it’s highly educated people, who I’m like, man, you think that’s true? And they do think stuff is true. That’s an issue.

Again, it’s not just over the last few years, and this problem didn’t start with Trump, not that he and his enablers haven’t exploited it. Which was followed by Tur discussing TikTok ownership, without mentioning that Steve Mnuchin owning it instead might not be much better than the Chinese from a propaganda standpoint, and VandeHei opining about “loss of faith” in “institutions,” with no mention of the fact that the right has been doing this forever, and it’s a feature, not a bug, from Republicans.

TUR: And it’s also part of the reason why Congress is trying to get the Chinese off owning TikTok, because why have a foreign government own a piece of technology where a good portion of the population gets their news information. It can be very risky if you have somebody who could pull the levers.

Let me ask you about something broader than just Donald Trump. You know, one of the old adages that we trot out in the news business is a healthy democracy needs a free press. It’s essential to a healthy democracy. How do you have a democracy when not everyone is getting the same information?

VANDEHEI: Again, I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that we’re playing with fire. We really are. Like, when you start to lose faith in all of your institutions, and we’ve seen an emotion of faith in every American institution over the last 20 years. People don’t really trust the church. They don’t trust the media. They don’t trust government. They often don’t often trust now technology. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, all of these things that used to bind us and bond us together, you lose faith in those things, and then you start to question the truth or you want the amplification of your own truth or what feels soothing to you personally.

People don’t have their “own truths.” Say the word. Lies. They’re buying into right wing lies and right wing propaganda. Pitiful bothsiderist nonsense where you lamely attempt to talk about a real problem, but do it in a way that you don’t offend anyone. If either of them actually want to warn the public about the real damage being done in those “media silos,” call the problem what is it, start naming names and rebut the lies being told, or don’t bother.

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