“If you don’t like it, build your own!” Folks on the left have frequently hurled this refrain at conservatives who speak out against progressives’ supremacy over mainstream media and the suppression of right-leaning ideas on social media. High-profile progressive voices insist that if right-leaning individuals believe their beliefs are diminished in the public square, they should find other ways to promote their ideas.
Leftist Media Complains About Echo Chambers
Axios published a report on Dec. 6 describing how “[c]onservatives are aggressively building their own apps, phones, cryptocurrencies, and publishing houses” to “circumvent what they see as an increasingly liberal internet and media ecosystem.”
According to Axios, this nascent trend is significant because “[m]any of these efforts couldn’t exist without the backing of major corporate figures and billionaires who are eager to push back against things like ‘censorship’ and ‘cancel culture.’”
The article listed the various initiatives in which conservatives are participating. Rumble, a video platform designed to be an alternative to YouTube, is going public at $2.1 billion through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger.Axios also noted:
“Donald Trump’s new social media company, called Truth Social, also plans to go public via a SPAC and on [Dec. 4] said that it secured $1 billion in so-called PIPE financing.
“The SPAC is currently trading at a market value of $1.6 billion, down from its $4.5 billion peak in late October.”
Gettr, a social media app created by former Trump aide Jason Miller, also is receiving financial support from the family foundation of Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire.
But conservatives are going beyond building a robust social media environment. They also are developing other avenues through which ideas can be spread. Axios reported:
“Trump allies recently launched a book publishing house called Winning Team Publishing, run by former Trump campaign aide Sergio Gor and Donald Trump Jr. The imprint will publish the ex-President’s first book, a coffee table tome that’s picture-focused.”
Trump’s social media platform will be hosted by RightForge, a company that provides web services to right-leaning sites that are concerned about leftist censorship efforts.
Amazon Web Services decided to use the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol as a pretext for taking down Parler, one of several alternative social media platforms. The company later moved to RightForge, where it is protected from the authoritarian left’s blacklist brigades.
Axios claimed that this current phase of conservative expansion into new areas of communication is not “just about more or louder conservative voices – it’s about building an entire conservative ecosystem.” Yes, but: While politicians seem eager to find new, unregulated avenues for political speech, data from Apptopia show that consumers aren’t sprinting toward the new alternatives.
CNN media activist Brian Stelter posted the article on Twitter, claiming that “[t]he right’s echo chamber is so much bigger than merely TV and radio.”
Axios AM's lead this morning: The right's echo chamber is so much bigger than merely TV and radio. "Conservatives are building their own apps, phones, cryptocurrencies and publishing houses to circumvent the mainstream tech and media ecosystem…" https://t.co/6jVV48NdGX
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) December 6, 2021
What’s the Problem?
It is odd that Axios posits that corporate funding for these right-leaning endeavors should be an area of concern. But this is not the first time the outlet has complained about conservative content being shared online. During an interview last year, editor-in-chief Mike Allen confronted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the notion that the social media platform is a “right-wing echo chamber.”
Allen seemed to throw off all pretense of objectivity when he complained that Facebook was “helping President Trump win.” He asked what Zuckerberg felt about Trump and other conservatives being able to “master Facebook”:
“I don’t think this is a Democrat or Republican thing, I think that some people are more sophisticated and just authentic and natural on the internet and social media than others. But overall, I do think that social media allows everyone to have a voice, including people who might have not traditionally been able to get their message out through a lot of the traditional media. And that’s not necessarily a partisan point.”
Allen acknowledged that the platform is “not partisan” and pointed out how former President Barack Obama used the site but said “that’s flipped” in conservatives’ favor. “Facebook, the reality is, is a real right-wing echo chamber,” Allen said. “If you look at some of the loudest voices, it’s your Breitbart and it’s Sarah Palin and it’s Franklin Graham and that part of the spectrum has figured out Facebook in this moment. Your liberal friends must hate it.”
The Facebook CEO pushed back. “I don’t think the service is a ‘right-wing echo chamber’ to use your words. I think that everyone can use their voice and can find media that they trust that reflects the opinions and the life experiences they’re having,” Zuckerberg explained. “Some people, I think, had found before that their experiences weren’t being covered by traditional media and are now able to find voices and follow them that resonate more with their life experience. It’s not clear to me that it’s a bad thing.”
It’s not only Axios that is concerned about the rise of conservative media. As these initiatives begin bearing fruit, one can expect a greater outpouring of criticism from leftists “concerned” about “misinformation.”
But it seems leftists like Allen are just worried that conservatives might subvert progressive supremacy over the airwaves, Big Tech, and educational institutions. It is why they suppress right-leaning views as much as possible. It’s why they attacked Parler.
Progressives who enjoy lofty positions in the media and elsewhere appear concerned that conservatives might pull a Rush Limbaugh and succeed at employing new and creative ways to reach people. Are these folks authentically concerned about echo chambers? When they aggressively enforce and support their progressive chambers? If current trends are any indication, they may have every reason to be afraid.
~ Read more from Jeff Charles.