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Epistemic Closure


David Roberts observes that the asymmetric polarization of the media will help to protect Trump:

As the massive post-election study of online media from Harvard (which got far too little attention) showed, media is not symmetrical any more than broader polarization is. “Prominent media on the left are well distributed across the center, center-left, and left,” the researchers found. “On the right, prominent media are highly partisan.”

I’ll return to this in a separate post, but campaign 2016 is really the ultimate demonstration of this. While Fox News et al. were all-in a massively unfit candidate the mainstream press was inventing fake Hillary Clinton scandals and massively overblowing trivial ones.

As long as conservatives can do something — steal an election, gerrymander crazy districts to maximize GOP advantage, use the filibuster as a routine tool of opposition, launch congressional investigations as political attacks, hold the debt ceiling hostage, repress voting among minorities, withhold a confirmation vote on a Supreme Court nominee, defend a known fraud and sexual predator who has likely colluded with a foreign government to gain the presidency — they will do it, knowing they’ll be backed by a relentlessly on-message media apparatus.

And if that’s true, if the very preconditions of science and journalism as commonly understood have been eroded, then all that’s left is a raw contest of power.

Donald Trump has the power to hold on to the presidency, as long as elected Republicans, cowed by the conservative base, support him. That is true almost regardless of what he’s done or what’s proven by Mueller. As long as he has that power, he will exercise it. That’s what recent history seems to show.

Democrats do not currently have the numbers to stop him. They can’t do it without some help from Republicans. And Republicans seem incapable, not only of acting on what Mueller knows, but of even coming to know it.

Congressional Republicans are going to do nothing about Trump, no matter what Mueller reveals or what Trump does to quash the investigation. The only remedy is hoping that Republicans become unpopular enough to overcome the undemocratic conditions of House elections.

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