Matt Taibbi, who is not a conservative:
[Monday’s] NPR article, “Outrage As A Business Model: How Ben Shapiro Is Using Facebook To Build An Empire,” is among the more unintentionally funny efforts at media criticism in recent times.
The piece is about Ben Shapiro, but one doesn’t have to have ever followed Shapiro, or even once read the Daily Wire, to get the joke. The essence of NPR’s complaint is that a conservative media figure not only “has more followers than The Washington Post” but outperforms mainstream outlets in the digital arena, a fact that, “experts worry,” may be “furthering polarization” in America. NPR refers to polarizing media as if they’re making an anthropological discovery of a new and alien phenomenon.
The piece goes on to note that “other conservative outlets such as The Blaze, BreitbartNews and The Western Journal” that “publish aggregated and opinion content” have also “generally been more successful… than legacy news outlets over the past year, according to NPR’s analysis.” In other words, they’re doing better than us.
Is the complaint that Shapiro peddles misinformation? No: “The articles The Daily Wire publishes don’t normally include falsehoods.” Are they worried about the stoking of Trumpism, or belief that the 2020 election was stolen? No, because Shapiro “publicly denounced the alt-right and other people in Trump’s orbit,” as well as “the conspiracy theory that Trump is the rightful winner of the 2020 election.” Are they mad that the site is opinion disguised as news? No, because, “publicly the site does not purport to be a traditional news source.”
The main complaint, instead, is that:
By only covering specific stories that bolster the conservative agenda (such as… polarizing ones about race and sexuality issues)… readers still come away from The Daily Wire’s content with the impression that Republican politicians can do little wrong and cancel culture is among the nation’s greatest threats.
NPR has not run a piece critical of Democrats since Christ was a boy. Moreover, much like the New York Times editorial page (but somehow worse), the public news leader’s monomaniacal focus on “race and sexuality issues” has become an industry in-joke. For at least a year especially, listening to NPR has been like being pinned in wrestling beyond the three-count. Everything is about race or gender, and you can’t make it stop.
Conservatives have always hated NPR, but in the last year I hear more and more politically progressive people, in the media, talking about the station as a kind of mass torture experiment, one that makes the most patient and sensible people want to drive off the road in anguish. A brief list of just a few recent NPR reports:
“Billie Eilish Says She Is Sorry After TikTok Video Shows Her Mouthing A Racist Slur.” Pop star caught on tape using the word “chink” when she was “13 or 14 years old” triggers international outrage and expenditure of U.S. national media funding.
“Black TikTok Creators Are On Strike To Protest A Lack Of Credit For Their Work.” White TikTok users dance to Nicky Minaj lyrics like, “I’m a f****** Black Barbie. Pretty face, perfect body,” kicking off “a debate about cultural appropriation on the app.”
“Geocaching While Black: Outdoor Pastime Reveals Racism And Bias.” Area man who plays GPS-based treasure hunt game requiring forays into remote places and private property describes “horrifying” experience of people asking what he’s doing.
“Broadway Is Reopening This Fall, And Every New Play Is By A Black Writer.” All seven new plays being written by black writers is “a step toward progress,” but critics “will be watching Broadway’s next moves” to make sure “momentum” continues.
“She Struggled To Reclaim Her Indigenous Name. She Hopes Others Have It Easier.” It took Cold Lake First Nations member Danita Bilozaze nine whole months to change her name to reflect her Indigenous identity.
“Tom Hanks Is A Non-Racist. It’s Time For Him To Be Anti-Racist.” Tom Hanks pushing for more widespread teaching of the Tulsa massacre doesn’t change the fact that he’s built a career playing “white men ‘doing the right thing,’” NPR complains.
Mixed in with Ibram Kendi recommendations for children’s books, instructions on how to “decolonize your bookshelf” and “talk to your parents about racism” (even if your parents are an interracial couple), and important dispatches from the war on complacency like “Monuments And Teams Have Changed Names As America Reckons With Racism, Birds Are Next,” “National” Public Radio in the last year has committed itself to a sliver of a sliver of a sliver of the most moralizing, tendentious, humor-deprived, jargon-obsessed segment of American society. Yet without any irony, yesterday’s piece still made deadpan complaint about Shapiro’s habit of “telling [people] what their opinions should be” and speaking in “buzzwords.”
This was functionally the same piece as the recent New York Times article, “Is the Rise of the Substack Economy Bad for Democracy?” which similarly blamed Substack for hurting “traditional news” — and, as the headline suggests, democracy itself — by being a) popular and b) financially successful, which in media terms means not losing money hand over fist. There, too, the reasons for the rise of an alternative media outlet were presented by critics as a frightening, unsolvable Scooby-Doo mystery.
It’s not. NPR sucks and is unlistenable, so people are going elsewhere. People like Shapiro are running their strategy in reverse and making fortunes doing it. One of these professional analysts has to figure this one out eventually, right?
Cockburn of The Spectator:
‘Hey, that’s some nice Facebook traffic you’re getting. Would be a shame if something happened to it.’
The average New York Times article on Facebook collects just under 2,000 likes, shares, and comments. The average Daily Wire link receives nearly 40,000. At the peak of the 2020 election, Daily Wire articles averaged almost 100,000 engagements. No other publication comes close.
And all of this really bothers NPR. For 2,000 petulant words, NPR does everything it can to imply that the Daily Wire should be kicked off Facebook. Why? Because…because…it’s just not fair! Why do people read their articles more than ours?
That’s the guts of the entire temper tantrum posing as an article. NPR gets very angry at the public for not liking the ‘right’ news outlets and basically calls for Big Tech to decide what people are supposed to read. And they do it with the same cudgel they’ve become so fond of in the past year: kvetching about ‘misinformation’.
The articles the Daily Wire publishes don’t normally include falsehoods (with some exceptions), and the site said it is committed to ‘truthful, accurate and ethical reporting.’
As NPR’s quoted experts explain, only covering specific stories that bolster the conservative agenda (such as negative reports about socialist countries and polarizing ones about race and sexuality issues) and only including certain facts, readers still come away from the Daily Wire‘s content with the impression that Republican politicians can do little wrong and cancel culture is among the nation’s greatest threats.
Grrr! The conservative outlet promotes conservatism! Why can’t they be 100 percent fair and unbiased, like all the publications that deep-sixed Hunter Biden’s laptop for partisan political purposes? Why can’t they do responsible and accurate reporting like the Washington Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize for writing approximately infinity articles about Russian collusion? Why can’t they be more like the bravely non-partisan New York Times, which forced out an editor for publishing an op-ed by a sitting US senator stating a view that more than half the country agreed with? Why can’t they come up with rhetorical innovations like ‘mostly peaceful protests’ in order to lie to the public about what’s happening right in front of their faces?
And speaking of Pravda-esque sleight of hand, NPR’s article delivers this gem from William and Mary academic Jaime Settle, who explains how even telling the truth is actually ‘misinformation’ if it makes NPR’s Facebook shares look bad.
‘They tend to not provide very much context for the information that they are providing,’ Settle said. ‘If you’ve stripped enough context away, any piece of truth can become a piece of misinformation.’
Soon, NPR is reduced to basically suggesting that Facebook’s news consumers are touched in the head:
‘On its “About” page, the site declares, “The Daily Wire does not claim to be without bias,” [but] It’s not clear that the millions of people engaging with the site’s news stories every month recognize that.
‘The Daily Wire‘s content looks no different in Facebook’s newsfeed than an article from a local newspaper, making it potentially difficult to distinguish between more and less reliable or biased information sources. “This is about what we end up consuming inadvertently,” Settle said.’
To borrow a word from Taylor Lorenz, does NPR think that Facebook users are r-slurred? They use the Daily Wire because they can’t tell the difference between it and the ‘right’ news sources?
Please. The truth is the exact opposite. The Daily Wire, and every other conservative outlet thriving on Facebook, is doing well because it is very obviously not part of the sanctimonious, equivocating, censorious, hypocritical, hysterical, deceptive, propagandistic orgy of self-righteous school-marmery that passes for ‘mainstream’ media. Unlike the typical NPR reporter, actual news consumers know the press is biased, so they at least want to pick an outlet that isn’t biased against them.
If the standard press wants their articles to be shared more, they could start by not being a never-ending cascade of moralizing lectures and psy-ops promoting foreign wars or polyamory. But that would be difficult. It takes decades of responsible practice to build up trust from the general public. It only takes a few days to simply call your rivals ‘misinformation’ and get them banned.
Wisconsin Public Radio (for whom, you may recall, I was a participant on its Friday morning political pundit panel, previously) recently ran a piece quoting UW–Milwaukee Prof. Mordecai Lee, a former state legislator, that Gov. Tony Evers won the budget battle with the state Legislature, despite the fact that the budget the Legislature created and passed is what Evers signed (with 50 Evers vetoes).
The WPR commenters all agreed with Lee, which means they are ignorant because no one, impartial or not, could look at that budget and say that Evers had anything to do with it other than signing it.