It’s a frustration many might feel during the holidays, or even when talking to friends or family members on social media sites like Facebook: why do some people, particularly within conservative circles, seem so willing to buy into conspiracy theories or other dubious ideas that defend President Donald Trump, in spite of evidence contradicting their viewpoints?
To be sure, there are plenty of left-leaning individuals who do the same, but research indicates that older users on social media with right-wing viewpoints are more likely to share “fake news” and disseminate other questionable material.
While the fake news narratives are benefiting conservatives, some on the right are still not happy with it, including Matthew Continetti, a founding editor of The Free Beacon, a conservative-leaning news site, and fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think-tank.
Speaking on this Sunday’s edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press” to host Chuck Todd, Continetti tried to explain how a large bloc of conservatives were outright pushing media that had questionable takes on the news of the day.
“The distrust in institutions … has led many of them to no longer believe in the idea that you need … evidence.” pic.twitter.com/dVX39tAKw2
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) December 29, 2019
Todd noted that fake news sources often started in places like 4chan or far-right subreddits, but easily found their way into more mainstream conservative media. “How do you create more accountability in the conservative ecosystem for basically dealing with propaganda?” Todd asked Continetti.
“It’s hard work, and I think it begins by trying to instruct young conservatives in the canons of journalism, mainly empirical verification,” the journalist responded.
He elaborated, stating that the “distrust of institutions is longstanding among conservatives, [and] has led many of them to no longer believe in the idea of, that you need evidence in order to forward a fact.”
Continetti added that some conservatives simply won’t believe “verified sources” for information anymore, either.
Continetti compared questionable right-wing media to supermarket tabloids, opining that people used to move past and ignore those publications, understanding they were for entertainment purposes rather than sources from which opinion should be constructed from. “Today, you can’t ignore it, and the second you go on one of these platforms, social media in particular, you’re confronted by it,” he added.