Sometimes people say things because they believe them.
But not always.
And the warning “buyer beware” applies as much to the marketplace of ideas as it does to a Saturday flea market.
That’s the takeaway this week after court documents revealed the turmoil inside the Fox News Channel as broadcasters concluded that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election but feared saying so would cost them viewers and money.
It highlights a reality we conservatives should be aware of, that sometimes people cater to us because they share our patriotic views, and sometimes they cater to us because they want to make money. We conservatives are passionate about our beliefs, which are tied up in our love of country. We see ourselves and our ideas engaged in a fight between good and evil, a defense of God-given freedom against sinister forces that seek to oppress us and destroy our society and country.
For us, this is real, and it is really important.
But that passion opens us up to exploitation, and it has created an extensive industry catering to our interests. That industry, done with integrity, can be a service to us and to our country. But done with an eye toward self-aggrandizement and financial gain, it can turn into a deception that exploits us and actually harms our country.
There are talk shows on radio and television, commentators of various types, innumerable podcasts and online networks or news sources. For many, from pillow vendors to loud shouters, there are tens of millions of dollars to be made. That proves a temptation to people of low character, who see us as an easy mark.
And often they are correct.
They try to attract an audience by being the most outlandish or conspiratorial, spinning ever more preposterous tales that have just enough plausibility to convince some and confuse others. They know we like guns and we don’t like gun bans and so after a mass shooting at a school that leads to more calls for gun bans, they tell us that the mass shooting was a fake, that it never happened.
And enough of us believe it to make them rich and attract others to the trade of duping the conservatives.
And every night on a set somewhere, somebody’s got to sit at a desk and stare into the camera and not just communicate ideas, but attract an audience in a fiercely competitive big-money battle for eyes and ears. That creates a pressure, for some, to say what they don’t believe and communicate what is not true.
In other words, to lie to you – about what is, or about what it is they believe.
The truth never was established by a lie. You can’t advance that which is true by saying that which is false.
And you don’t help people by lying to them, even if it’s a lie they want to hear, even if the truth will earn you their anger and scorn.
But not everyone serving a conservative audience has the integrity to realize that and live up to it. And so, sometimes, conservative commentary can become performance art, calculated to work you up because you want to be worked up and because if you get worked up you’ll be more apt to tune in again tomorrow and to buy the survival supplies or Reagan medallions you’re about to see an ad for.
Which gets back to the premise: Buyer beware. As you use conservative news and commentary, try to be discerning, gauge the credibility of the program or podcast, verify what you hear and use plenty of critical thinking and even skepticism, if need be. Remember that some people are just trying to fleece you, that they are playing a role in order to make a profit.
Reject those people and what they say.
But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Because since the first time George F. Will wrote a column or Rush Limbaugh opened a microphone, conservative media has been Liberty’s torch in the Marxist darkness that threatens to engulf our country. In conservative news and commentary products, like-minded patriots often find the only support of their beliefs the public square has to offer. So oppressive is progressive control of the media and popular culture, so intolerant are the woke elites, that the principles of our Constitution and country are often ignored or only quietly whispered in the face of liberals’ shouted demands for submission.
We need conservative media.
But we also need to keep our eye on it.
That’s what those court documents reminded us.