Pete Spiliakos makes a good point. He says that the Planned Parenthood story hasn’t really broken out beyond conservative media:
A significant (and growing) share of America lives in a media environment in which they will not hear about the Planned Parenthood videos, or will hear occasional stories that are relentlessly propagandistic and unbearably boring. Liberal elites will try to ignore, distort, sneer away (“heavily edited”), and finally ban political information that is too damaging to their cause.
Conservatives are frustrated, but their frustration is instructive. What is happening with Planned Parenthood isn’t special. This is what happens every day of every year for tens of millions of Americans. The difficulty that conservative now have in bringing the Planned Parenthood videos to the attention of nonconservatives is actually an improvement over the complete failure of the right to reach that segment of the public the rest of the time. Tens of millions of Americans are carefully shielded from evidence supporting conservative outlooks. They never hear the best conservative arguments. Meanwhile, the worst of the right gets copious attention.
This is what happened with the gay marriage story, over the past two decades. How many times have we heard that there were “no good arguments” for privileging traditional marriage? It’s true that there may have ultimately been a lack of persuasive arguments; as I have said many times, we have same-sex marriage not because it is an alien belief forced on us by liberal elites, but because it is the culmination of the Sexual Revolution, which has already been accepted by most Americans. But there was no lack of good arguments, only a lack of media willingness to take them seriously and present them fairly. Within media circles — and I say this in part from personal experience — there was, in general, never any intention to do so. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “Well, would you give the Klan equal time to make a white supremacist argument?”
I remember a couple of years ago, watching ABC World News Tonight’s report on the Susan Komen/Planned Parenthood donation controversy. I don’t expect the MSM to be anything but biased on reporting stories having to do with feminism, homosexuality, or … well, anything having to do with culture. But even this was shocking. They didn’t even try to be fair.
Anyway, Spiliakos concludes that conservatives are going to have to work to build institutions capable of reaching beyond the conservative audience, to bring them arguments and information that the mainstream media will not. Here’s the main point:
We have to build institutions that can produce and fund such outreach campaigns. If we are to win in the long-term, the right must stop the insane overspending on Republican presidential primary campaigns and PACs. Our opponents on the left (even those who posture as nonpartisan journalists) will not bring our message to the general public. That is up to us. Either we can work together to talk to that America that never hears from conservatives, or we can continue to grind our teeth.
Consider the $200 million or so that the GOP 2016 presidential candidates have raised. How much of that might have done more good for conservatism had it been invested in helping existing institutions to innovate to be more effective, or building new institutions? Culture is more important than politics.
Unfortunately, it seems impossible to think that conservatives will ever have anything capable of competing directly with the power of the mainstream media. Most non-elderly conservatives I know think Fox is as much a part of the problem as its liberal competitors — meaning that they are as wary of the spin machine of the Right as from the Left. Maybe this is a problem without a solution for the Right, but it would be nice if more conservatives from the donor class would consider diversifying their investments, so to speak, for the sake of creating cultural change, not just electing politicians.