Charlie Sykes: “Having Discredited The Mainstream Media,” Conservatives Created A Right-Wing Media Landscape “That Bear No Resemblance To Reality”
August 15, 2016 10:23 PM EDT ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
ARI MELBER (GUEST HOST): Donald Trump repeatedly going after the press, members of the press and anyone working in the media during his campaign. And that does delight some of his supporters and often he does it in intensely personal ways. Now this weekend he is ratcheting up the attacks. He suggested that his real opponent wasn’t Hillary Clinton. It is the press and he threatened to revoke their credentials, including from The New York Times, after they ran a story characterizing him as sullen and erratic.
What did you mean that you fed us up to this moment?
CHARLIE SYKES: Well, I think in part, and I have a longer analysis of this, but over the years, conservative talk show hosts, and I’m certainly one of them, we have done a remarkable job of attacking and challenging the mainstream media. But perhaps what we did was also then to destroy any sense of a standard. Who are the referees? Where do you go to basically say, this is the truth? Now you have Donald Trump comes along and the man says things that are demonstrably untrue on a regular basis. But my experience has been look, we live in an era where every drunk at the end of the bar has a Twitter account, has an email account, and maybe has a blog. And when you try to point out, OK this is not true, this is a lie, and then you cite The Washington Post or The New York Times, their response is, ah that’s the mainstream media. So we’ve done such a good job of discrediting them, that there’s almost no, there’s no place to go to be able to fact check. Now having said that, the mainstream media does have some responsibility here. For years and years and years crying wolf, accusing every single Republican of being a racist. Now, you have the real thing come along and we’re kind of at a loss.
You would not have seen a conservative alternative media if they felt that they were being treated with respect. And there was a certain amount of contempt, there was a certain amount of dismissal of conservative ideas. And as a result, the conservative alternative media, and I’m part of that, grew up and I was very proud of that and I assumed that what we were doing was informing people, making people smart, giving people factual information, telling them the other side of the story. And unfortunately what’s happened is it has morphed into this alternative reality where as Joan says, we live in these different silos. And having discredited the mainstream media, now what do we have? We have the InfoWars, we have the Breitbarts, we have the Drudges, in which information is passed, things that that bear no resemblance to reality whatsoever. So I’m in the position of having on a regular basis to basically say, look, that information is not valid, that’s not true, that’s not accurate. And yet we have so effectively conditioned many of our listeners not to pay any attention to something outside that bubble, outside that silo, that now we have this Donald Trump phenomena. And what you’re seeing is Donald Trump understanding that he needs to delegitimize the press itself, not just criticize bias. He needs to delegitimize any of those media stories that are going to come out about him because there’s a lot still to come.