The “Red Wave” gleefully predicted by Fox News and the surrounding galaxy of conservative media and Republican polling organizations has turned into a purple ripple by Wednesday morning.
While votes continue to be counted, the Democrats have a good chance of maintaining control of Senate, while the Republicans may only pick up a handful of seats in the House of Representatives and have at best a slim majority there.
This happened because Fox News and the conservative media universe it spawned created the perfect echo chamber — a fun house of mirrors where truth about what American voters actually want never enters.
Earlier this week, conservative media was filled with headlines like this:
- “Why Voters Will Oust Democrats From Power Across U.S.” — New York Post
- “Democrat Blame Game in Full Swing as GOP Poised for Midterm Gains” — National Review
- “The Prospect of a Red Wave Landing Comes Ever Closer” — AMAC
Then returns started coming in Tuesday night and it quickly became clear that the predicted wave never crested.
Conservative media was duly shocked, and commentators blamed Republican voters — “in several states, Republican voters simply chose to lose” said one — but the real blames lies with conservative media itself.
The problem is that in the echo chamber, amid the warm embrace of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, GOP candidates come to believe their own press releases. It’s like Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, where the Russian elite believes “everything is going according to plan” in Ukraine.
Fox and others routinely dismiss “mainstream media” for not being conservative, but the utility of media in a Democracy rests on asking tough questions and seeking the truth. The mainstream isn’t conservative because the truth is neither conservative nor liberal.
The much maligned mainstream media consistently reported both sides — that the Republican Party had a big opportunity amid inflation and the unpopularity of President, but that Democrats might hold seats because of concern about abortion restrictions and wariness over election deniers.
Conservative media, however, simply told Republican candidates they were winning and everyone in the echo chamber believed it. Except the American voters.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.