Danger! Damage! How punditry goes off the rails, and how to filter out the doomsday nonsense you’re hearing
If you ever feel like running a statistical experiment, spend the day watching your favorite cable news network, and count the number of times you hear words like “danger” or “damage” used. Some cable news hosts and pundits are far better than others, but the one thing they all have in common is that no matter what’s happening in the news, they’ll find a way to tell you that it’s bad for your side – with the implication that you’d better stay tuned in or else your side will lose everything.
I only point this out because we’re now coming upon a number of crucial developments in politics and for the nation, and it’ll be important that we all accurately understand what these developments mean. Naturally, your favorite cable news channels are largely spinning these developments as “dangerous” and causing “damage,” because those are the concepts that keep you tuned in.
In fairness to cable news, plenty of liberal pundits on the internet employ the same approach of taking everything that’s happening and automatically spinning it into being a loss for their side of the political fence, because doom and gloom scares liberal activists into paying attention to them. This helps to build their follower count. But when you continually tell liberal activists that they’re going to lose no matter what, it can cause them to simply give up, instead of putting in the work required to win.
This is a dangerous punditry trend that’s been around since long before the Trump era. But because the Trump era was so fraught, it gave pundits even more motivation to spin things even more negatively than they actually were. Remember all the endless lamenting the previous four years about how Trump was “getting away with it all” and was going to remain in office forever? He lost in a seven million vote blowout and is now sitting at home waiting to be criminally indicted. So much for the “we’re going to lose no matter what” pundits.
This brings us to the latest news developments. For instance, the Arizona Republican legislature is doing an “audit” of the 2020 election right now, with the intention of falsely announcing that Donald Trump won. Just about every liberal pundit, on TV and online, is spinning this as a “danger” causing “damage” and there’s nothing we can do about it.
But in reality, the Arizona GOP is obviously only doing this to try to soothe Trump’s bruised ego over having lost in a multimillion vote non-event. This is the same Arizona GOP that’s become so comically inept, it managed to lose both of Arizona’s U.S. Senate seats in a span of two years. Now we’re supposed to believe that its silly “2020 audit” is somehow magically going to turn things around for the GOP? Come on.
The more likely outcome is that in its desperation to stroke the ego of a fading Donald Trump, the Arizona GOP merely ends up unwittingly convincing a whole lot of Trump supporters that because the 2020 election really was rigged, their vote didn’t count, it won’t count next time either, and they shouldn’t bother voting anymore going forward. But apparently I’m not supposed to be saying any of that out loud, because other liberal pundits are all spinning this as somehow being a bad thing for the Democrats, and I guess I didn’t get the memo.
This comes even as Trump leaked to the media yesterday that he’s considering spending the summer in New Jersey instead of Florida. This story probably has lot to do with finding golf-friendly weather, and little to do with anything else. But some liberal pundits are already spinning this as part of some kind of secret evil genius plan which Trump will use to magically make a comeback in 2024. Liberal pundits always seem to think that Trump has a secret evil genius plan in play at any given time, but after all these years we’ve never seen it emerge.
We’re also now seeing Vladimir Putin pull his troop buildup back from Ukraine, even as he allows Navalny to get proper medical attention. Putin clearly never had the muscle escalate things militarily, and he doesn’t appear to think he has the muscle to kill Navalny either. Putin is still dangerous, of course. But he’s obviously not the invincible evil wizard that the media has spent the past few years making him out to be. After all, he tried to help Trump in the 2020 election, but failed. So much for his magic wand. In fact President Biden seems to have Putin second guessing himself.
The reality is that we don’t know precisely how some of these narratives are going to play out. All we can do is look at the totality of the available evidence, put it within a broader political context, and try to figure out the most logically likely outcomes, all while doing what we can to get the truth out there. But as America continues to head into uncharted territory, it’s more important than ever to keep in mind that if the pundits’ goal is to spin every development as negatively as possible in order to scare you into staying tuned in, then your job as an activist is to filter out this kind of histrionic doomsday nonsense and focus on fighting and winning.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report