The “closed loop” of conservative media has pushed the Republican Party farther to the right, argued Jackie K. Calmes, the White House editor for the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau, at the Kennedy School Tuesday.
In a discussion led by Shorenstein Center Director Nicco Mele, Calmes contended that conservative media outlets have driven Republican leaders to overpromise on issues—like repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood—that they later found to be politically unattainable.
“The things [the Republican Party was] promising were always unachievable, but they were thrown out there as red meat encouraged by conservative media,” Calmes said.
Calmes argued that the Internet, talk radio, and cable television have together created a confined “ecosystem” of right-wing media that has pushed politicians to adopt more extreme policy stances at the expense of effective governance.
“You take something as basic to Republican ideology as tax cuts, and [Republican politicians] cannot do it,” she said.
And asked how she sees the relationship between conservative media and Republican politicians changing in the future, Calmes said the outlook was bleak: “It’s only going to get worse,” she said.
The rise of the Internet as a dominant news source has only intensified this relationship, she said. She added that journalists should not stop reporting on President Donald Trump’s tweets, which “provide a unique window into the mindset of the President of the United States.”
Liam D. deClive-Lowe ’21, who attended the talk, said he found Calmes’ ideas enlightening.
“My biggest takeaway was that right now we have two major parties in America, one which is a governing party that can’t win elections and one that’s a winning party that can’t govern,” he said.
Lloyd P. Deshaye, a retired Canadian provincial court judge, also said he was satisfied with the event.
“It’s gratifying that people are talking so openly about the state of government in the United States,” he said.
A Threat to ModerationThe presence of Cruz will exacerbate this problem; his conservative viewpoints, combined with his national prominence and famously outspoken nature, will undoubtedly force the other candidates farther to the right.
More Substance, Less MoneyAn electoral system that allows two extravagantly wealthy men to have as much financial influence as the two major political parties must be fundamentally reformed.
A Dictionary of Media BiasRules of rhetoric set out that you tackle the message rather than trying to shoot the messenger. Unfortunately they don’t hold for audiences who haven’t internalized those rules.
Campus Democrats Celebrate Election Results
A Message to Prospective ConservativesI won’t tell you that being a Harvard Republican will always be easy. It won’t. But I will strongly encourage you to resist shying away from this campus for that reason.