The left goes bonkers

  • 7 July 2017
  • NormanL

There has been a lot of ink spilled on this piece in the Atlantic, about how the left has fallen down the rat hole of conspiracy theories and hate. It's a continuation of a theme we've noted in past postings on this site. But this article goes where the others have not -- into the message boards, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and fake news sites that are driving a great deal (though certainly not all) of the venom on the left. And not a small amount of the delusions, as well. For example:

The roots of the liberal blogosphere can be traced back to the early Bush years, when Markos Moulistas launched the Daily Kos to crusade against “an oppressive and war-crazed administration” and Josh Marshall used Talking Points Memo to take the Senate Majority Leader to task. A decade and a half later, some of the blogs of that era have matured into more professional news sites, like TPM, while others have disappeared. But in 2017, the left has more niche political sites than ever, and in many ways they make up the core of its modern media ecosystem.

Some are relative newcomers to this scene. There is The Palmer Report, the publication of record for anti-Trump conspiracy nuts who don’t care about the credibility of the record; Shareblue, a viral news site that aspires, according to its founder David Brock, to become the “Breitbart of the left”; and Patribotics, home to Mensch’s Russia-related rumormongering. 

Meanwhile, old-school platforms like Reddit and Daily Kos continue to host freewheeling forums that attract the kind of occasionally enlightening, occasionally deranged conversations that tend to thrive in those environments. And the HuffPost contributor platform—an un-vetted, unedited section of the site that operates apart from its professional journalism—has been a vehicle for some of the most bizarre, and outright craziest, content to go viral on the left in recent years.

Just this month, editors were forced to delete a contributor post that began, “Impeachment and removal from office are only the first steps; for America to be redeemed, Donald Trump must be prosecuted for treason and — if convicted in a court of law — executed.” And throughout last year’s primaries, Seth Abramson, a creative writing professor at the University of New Hampshire, used his HuffPost perch to churn out a procession of increasingly delusional blog posts explaining why Bernie Sanders would inevitably win the Democratic nomination.

Abramson’s arguments not only denied political realities and delegate math as the race wore on; they often denied basic human logic. But thanks to the hordes of Bernie fans desperately scouring the internet for some hope to cling to, Abramson’s posts consistently went uber-viral. (He eventually wrote a post defending this shameless play for clicks as a form of “experimental journalism” that embraced “the multi-dimensionality of metanarrative.” The Washington Post’s Matt O’Brien responded via Twitter: “Area Academic Writes Barely Comprehensible Defense of Lying.”) These days, Abramson’s main platform is Twitter, where he has over 150,000 followers, and specializes in imminent-indictment stories in the style of criminal complaints.

Irrational hopes, deep seeded fears, rantings and ravings...none of these things are new in politics. All that has really changed is that the fringes get more attention, faster, today than in the past. That doesn't excuse the phenomenon we're currently witnessing. Lunacy is not policy, and it makes for exceptionally bad politics. The rise and rapid spread of the left fringe threatens to overwhelm establishment Democrats. Not that we will weep over their plunge into the electoral wilderness.