My Think Again column is called "The Mainstream Media Is Missing the Point." It attempts to contrast the obsession with Tiger and Barack's golf game, with say, the lack of attention shown to the conservative billionaire/corporate purchase of the think tank world to spout the nonsense that keeps them rolling in dough. It's here.
And it's taken me thirty-seven years to build a column around my favorite Bruce song, but here we finally go. It's called "They've Got the Fever…" and it's here. (It's a long story, but I do feel responsible for getting Bruce to include it on "18 Tracks," ["The Promise," too, as it happens] though the version on my funeral playlist is the one from Winterland in 1978.)
Not in Its Right Mind
by Reed Richardson
Journalism in this country has a problem. OK, it has lots of problems, which just this past week ranged, alphabetically, from Allen, Mike all the way up to zone coverage, flood the. But it was the Beltway media’s all too predictable hand wringing over the looming sequester and the inability of the two parties to come to a “grand bargain” that reminded me of one of its most important—and most overlooked—failures. Our political press simply does not understand how the American right-wing thinks, or to be more accurate, how differently it thinks.
This is no mere rhetorical flourish. There’s now a critical mass of scientific evidence that shows the minds of conservatives are literally structured differently than liberals. While neither ideology is immune from psychological phenomena that can muddy reality and cloud judgment—effects like motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and selective exposure—study after study finds that conservative thought processes are measurably more rigid and inflexible. In addition, surveys show that conservatives are noticeably more likely to embrace flawed, irrational arguments to bolster their beliefs and they’re more resistant to encountering or trusting any new evidence that might contradict said beliefs. This fundamental, cognitive disparity between liberals and conservatives can’t help but ripple through our political discourse, affecting every electoral campaign, every legislative battle, every committee meeting. And yet the Washington press corps, whose explicit job it is to tease out and explain the motives behind our government’s political stakeholders, demonstrates almost no curiosity or comprehension of how ideology and psychology interact with one another.
In his fantastic recent book, The Republican Brain, Chris Mooney addresses this very disconnect. In it, he explains how the failure to take into account these psychological differences amounts to a kind of professional negligence on the part of the press: