March 29, 2017


The Weekly Standard's Arsenal to Fight Falsehoods: 'Facts, Logic and Reason' (Jim Rutenberg, MARCH 26, 2017, NY Times)

When I caught up with Mr. Hayes last week he was in the process of staffing up. He had poached The Wall Street Journal's books editor, Robert Messenger, to be an executive editor alongside Mr. Barnes. He had hired Rachael Larimore, a former managing editor of the left-leaning Slate (though her politics lean to the right), and recruited a former deputy business editor of The Charlotte Observer, Tony Mecia.

He said he was on the verge of hiring five additional journalists, having gotten the go-ahead from The Weekly Standard's billionaire owner, Philip Anschutz, to grow his team by a third.

Mr. Hayes said he made a simple case to Mr. Anschutz, who bought The Weekly Standard from Mr. Murdoch in 2009: "Let's add more resources and make sure that we're basing our arguments on facts, logic and reason."

Mr. Hayes shares the viewpoint of another prominent Wisconsin conservative, Charlie Sykes, the #NeverTrump talk radio host who declared last year that he and his fellow conservative media stalwarts had been too successful in delegitimizing the mainstream news media.

"We destroyed our own immunity to fake news while empowering the worst and most reckless voices on the right," Mr. Sykes wrote in The Times last year.

Mr. Hayes said he put more of the onus for that on the mainstream news media than Mr. Sykes does (though Mr. Sykes certainly puts some there). It has undercut itself with conservative-leaning readers, he said, through "the questions that aren't asked and aren't covered" in a way that seems to favor liberal viewpoints.

Yet the effect remained: There are right-leaning voters who "don't believe what they're getting from the networks and the left-leaning cable outlets" and therefore may be open to false or unsubstantiated content that provides affirmation at the expense of true information, he said.

In some parts of the conservative news media sphere, winning the intellectual argument has been replaced with winning the war, by any means necessary.

It's worth remembering that one of the services WFB performed was reading Birchers out of the movement, as must be done now with the Bannonites and the alt-right.

Posted by at March 29, 2017 6:12 PM