The Right’s New Media Scare Tactics

The Right’s New Media Scare Tactics

The right is using the internet and social networking sites to make stuff up about undocumented immigrants. On The Rachel Maddow Show, Melissa Harris-Lacewell asks why the left isn’t using these same tools to progressive ends?


“Scaring white people for fun and profit is not only politically expedient, it’s also increasingly easy to do,” says Rachel Maddow on her show. Tea Party Nation created a new online forum where they are asking tea partiers to post stories about undocumented immigrants. In an email sent to supporters, they say: “If [sic] have been the victim of a crime by an illegal, or if your business has gone under because your competition uses illegals, or if you have lost your job to illegals, we want to know about it… We need to get the true story out about illegal immigration and we need your help to do it.” Also, if anyone sees undocumented immigrants acting out, like burning an American flag or hanging a Mexican flag above an American one, they also would like photos. “Acts of decency by people without papers are disqualified from this forum,” Maddow says. The right has used fear and loathing to political ends for a long time, Maddow says, the difference being that “now it’s user generated.”

Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Lacewell joins Maddow to tell her why there seems to have been a switch between the left and the right over who is using new media to their political advantage. In the 2008 campaign, Obama for America (OFA) figured out the most appropriate ways to use and develop new media, which ended up changing American elections. The question then became whether the Democratic party could take the lessons of the campaign and turn them into legislative and electoral power. But as Harris-Lacewell explains, “The Democratic Party has not been able to take on the capacity that the OFA had in 2008, but is certainly going to need to in order to be responsive.”

—Melanie Breault

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