The Farce of Independent Right-Wing Media

The right likes to paint itself as unbiased and neutral - but is it really?

Andy Ngo and U.S. Congressman Dan Crenshaw speaking with attendees at the 2019 Teen Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Flickr by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Grifting comes in multiple flavors, but none is more sour than what independent right-wing media engages in. Withstanding the nominal nature of its independence, it nonetheless purports itself to be a most-untainted conduit of truth even though there’s plenty pointing to the contrary. Its numerous figureheads get speaking privileges at major cable news networks and their voices are constantly parroted by mainstream outlets and yet, journalistic malpractice is their most-defining feature.

To call the efforts of people like Andy Ngo, Ian Miles Cheong, Michael Tracey and Sophia Narwitz ‘independent’ is stretching the definition far beyond what it can withstand–either residing in the grapevines of political discourse or shamelessly aired out for everyone else to see, their affiliations aren’t particularly exhibiting of impartiality. Whether it’s working for Russian state-sponsored media or getting bankrolled by the Koch Brothers, independent right-wing media have little authority to protest the bias they so despise on the left–they’ve sold the lie of objectivity in news coverage, and mainstream media took them up on it without due scrutiny.

The lot of independent right-wing journalists like to paint themselves as rebels against what they perceive to be mainstream media’s complicity in chaos upheld, and recent protests lamenting police brutality and advocating for racial justice have never laid it out more bare–images of destruction are emphasized with the false claim that Antifa is a threat whose size and scope rivals that of far-right terrorist groups. Much to the right’s dismay, that assessment is continuously proven wrong by data, but they’d be remiss to yield so easily–they’ll double down on falsehood until it is heralded as truth.

For the longest time, this clandestine kind of coverage was tantamount to a joke–but as far-right prodigy Kyle Rittenhouse has come to prove recently, no troublesome trend of news coverage with the explicit purpose of inciting violence gets to live long enough without grave consequences soon-to-ensue. Perplexingly, even those who feigned disgust at the course of mainstream right-wing media were to rejoice when Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson interpreted Rittenhouse’s actions as the organic response to chaos and disorder–if it is the case that Carlson and Ngo are a world apart, the ever-so-radicalizing tendencies of their audiences saw them unified as one if only for a brief moment.

The veneer of anti-corporatism is an effective cloak for false rebellion–Ngo & co would like for themselves to be perceived as champions of the everyman, but what they end up doing through their blind patronage of state power is merely reinforcing the status quo. The right-wing likes to view itself as an insurgent force, but in voicing their indifference to police’s retaliatory behavior against protesters, they’ve licked the boots of the ruling class clean–it’s nothing short of an indictment on our collective media literacy that such dissonance gets to play out so plainly, with few on the right custoding themselves the duty to defy it.

Journalism thrives on competition, and even if the left’s counter-proposition isn’t without fault, they don’t nearly comprise the same broken incentive structures that make dis-and-misinformation as appealing to right-wing audiences–being purely audience-supported sure helps, but more crucial is having cultivated a following that while reverent of their ideas, isn’t reticent to hold their feet to the fire. Independent right-wing media on the other hand has engulfed itself in a structure where ideological homogeneity is prized above all other considerations, making it nigh-impossible for defectors to stoke the fires of long-overdue reform.

If justice were to be served, all those sowing discord would sooner don an orange jumpsuit before they’re able to further parade shit-soaked on Jack Dorsey’s playground of untamed chaos–but because the powers that be are still absorbed by the broken promise of absolutist free speech, they fail to see the road ahead where fascism is permitted to thrive under the guise of tolerating any and all ideas, no matter how perilous to society they are. Even though the litany of independent right-wing journalists have proven themselves disinterested in an accurate retelling of current events, criticism will be dismissed by sympathizers as “leftist bias” or an “unwillingness to listen to the other side”–it’s rhetorical poison designed specifically to undermine any dissent, claiming it as partisan and therefore illegitimate.

It’s a testament to the independent right-wing’s success that they managed to sell that narrative to mainstream media without them questioning it much, leading to far more mentions of the elusive “far-left” and “Antifa” threat than any of the concrete material harms caused by the far-right. The falsehood starts small on social media, finds its home in several outlets — from either side of the political spectrum — and quickly becomes fodder for the right to push their next item on the agenda–it’s to be expected in an environment where a lot of information originates on the internet, but it is also further exacerbated by platforms’ unwillingness to do the necessary triage to avoid the chronic pollution of our global information ecosystem.

What this combination of factors creates is a world where the flurry of independent right-wing journalists get to claim neutrality when they don so few of its attributes–getting hit by milkshakes sure sounds humiliating, but preaching the gospel of political insurgency while kowtowing to the most ubiquitous form of state power is even more so. Any false concerns about liberty or the right to bear arms in defiance of a tyrannical government are but a smokescreen for the right’s true goals–those being the creation of a nationalistic regime where all identities but white, straight and evangelical are reviled and actively cast away from society.

Because independent right-wing journalists have oft-expressed these views in less-than-subtle ways — sometimes more explicitly than their mainstream counterparts — they’re to be treated as a threat to civil society, not just mere nuisances to tolerate on the side. The more proactive measures social media platforms take to rid themselves of their sludge, the better off we’ll be in the absence of their contempt for democracy–here’s hoping their riddance is soonest-occurring given the massive stakes at hand.