WSJ's Bret Stephens: Right-Wing Media “Echo Chamber” Has Pushed Republicans To Be “Increasingly Divorced From Reality”

Stephens: “If You Spend Your Time Listening To Certain Cable Shows ... You End Up Having This Kind Of Conversation That's Just Increasingly Divorced From Reality”

From the August 8 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

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JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): What do we -- I don't want to speak for you. I'm a registered Republican, I don't know if you are or not. I'm a conservative, I certainly know you're a conservative. How much do we look at our own party and say, well, you look at a lot of polls and in some states 50 percent of people not only wanted to ban Muslims, they wanted to ban mosques in America. Shouldn't we, after this election, have a post-mortem, not just about the candidates we nominate, but the party that we're in?

BRET STEPHENS: Well, I think the point you're making is an important one, in that too much of the Republican Party became an echo chamber of itself. And so, if you spend your time listening to certain cable shows all the time, listening to nobody else, if you're prone to the kind of conspiracy theories that whiz around on Twitter or certain fringes of the internet, you end up having this kind of conversation that's just increasingly divorced from reality. The people coming over the border, from south of the border, is not a horde of Libyan jihadists, but you would think, talking to some large segment of the GOP base, that that's the kind of challenge that we face. Trade is not hurting working class Americans. Trade is helping working class Americans. But, again, because of the echo chamber that we created -- and by the way, one large problem I would add, and a wise Republican friend of mine made this point, because of redistricting, because red districts are so red, and the only challenges that incumbents face are primary challenges, we are moving in a kind of a self-polarizing direction. That doesn't help the country, doesn't help the Republican Party. 

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, I mean basically -- and you saw it even with Mitt Romney's campaign. They watched Fox News. They still believed at two in the morning that -- they were still -- or at least they believed late into the evening, when everyone else knew the election was over, that they were going to win, because their entire campaign apparatus was inside the bubble. The Republican Party has been inside the bubble now for too long. 

STEPHENS: Well it's a kind of a Pauline Kael phenomenon. I guess she was the New York or New York Times movie critic who said, “I can't believe [Richard] Nixon won, all my friends voted for [George] McGovern.” 

SCARBOROUGH: Didn't know a single person that voted for Nixon, right. 

STEPHENS: And a lot of people have no idea that Trump is headed for a historic defeat. That's why, I think the larger the defeat, in a sense, the healthier it will be for the Republican Party. At least if it doesn't bring Paul Ryan's speakership down with him and there's a kind of healthy divided government, because it might be a wake-up call to those Republicans who have existed in this little thought bubble of their own that this isn't a winning form of politics.


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