Robert D. Mather, Ph.D.

TheConservativeSocialPsychologist.com Blog
What The New York Times and CNN Didn't Tell You About What I Said

Andrew Breitbart’s number 1 rule was “Don’t be afraid to go into enemy territory.” So I when extremely biased liberal outlets ask me for interviews, I generally agree. However, having been burned a few times on the national stage, I now insist on e-mail interviews when practical. Those give transparency and allow me to show what was really said, good or bad. It has helped me clear the record a few times, but what doesn’t get shown are the egregiously biased omissions from the legacy media. Since we are approaching election day, I thought I would share a few from this year.  


The New York Times Interview (May 2020)


The questions revolved around the political polarization of the pandemic lockdown. Why do liberals support lockdowns and conservatives support restarting the economy? Do they value life differently? Do conservatives have more emphasis on the costs of the economic shutdown such as health? Here was my response.


“There are quite possibly two elements at play with the political polarization of the pandemic lockdown. First, liberals and conservatives have very different sets of moral foundations. According to Jonathan Haidt's research, liberals emphasize the moral foundations of harm/care and fairness/reciprocity, while conservatives emphasize harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. During the pandemic, both liberals and conservatives are likely to feel equal amounts of sadness and empathy for the extreme loss of life, but conservatives are more likely to place those emotions within the larger context of the economic shutdown. Second, many liberals and conservatives get their news from very different media sources and greatly distrust sources that do not align with their viewpoints. This is an outgrowth of the group polarization that has occurred in recent years. Fortunately, one value of a free press is that it accommodates many viewpoints and ideally one set of facts. The reconciliation point for liberals and conservatives will be to rally around fact-based objective truth reporting by major media outlets. That is the best chance to reduce group polarization.”


Of course, the NYT article ended up being a parade of liberal social psychologists explaining how Trump’s policies are bad (which would be irrelevant to the research data on human behavior, even if true, right?), Republicans are evil, and did not include a comment from the only conservative they chose to interview to balance the other 15 social scientists. There is irony in those editorial choices in light of the last three sentences of my response.  


CNN Interview (October 2020)


The questions in this early October interview revolved around election anxiety. Here was my response.


“When a person tries to avoid thinking about something, it usually comes back with a vengeance. Thought suppression often leads to a rebound effect, and thinking about something else, called a focused distracter, reduces the rebound. So people who are having election anxiety should try to focus on something non-political.


Anxiety increases arousal and shrinks a person’s working memory capacity, so they it can make us more susceptible to peripheral route persuasion. That means that glitzy messages with little substance can more easily change our attitudes in that condition. Have you ever noticed those types of political ads that play to that?


People who are high in need for cognition are people who need to really analyze information to be comfortable. They might be better off critically analyzing information, but that is going to be 1/3 of people at best. If they feel overwhelmed because there is so much information in today’s media cycles, then no amount of research and critical thinking will help them. They need to cognitively pivot to a non-political interest or use relaxation techniques.”


Again, none of this was included in the article which presumably bumped my comments and those of another conservative for an extensive discussion of a “study, published recently as a pre-print without outside peer review” that fit the narrative that people less afraid of COVID don’t follow CDC recommendations.


President Trump has famously accused CNN and the legacy media of being Fake News. These accusations are easy to dismiss unless you have experienced it first hand. Sometimes it’s the writers, sometimes it’s the editors, sometimes its both. But the egregiously biased spin of the legacy media is infuriating if you think about the people who trust the legacy media and believe them. Those people have no idea of the ongoing FBI investigation of Hunter Biden and barely any familiarity with the Tara Reade sexual assault accusation against Joe Biden. They don’t know about Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s involvement in illegally surveilling Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and they don’t know about Joe Biden dropping out of the 1988 presidential campaign due to plagiarism. They also don’t know about Fusion GPS and the Steele Dossier. These are major scandals at the highest levels. It is pure Alinsky tactics of accusing your opponent of the corruption that you yourself are doing.


They also don’t know about the strange gaffes, weird unwanted hugs, weird unwanted kisses, and weird unwanted hair sniffing of Joe Biden at campaign events. That’s probably why they mask, muzzle, and quarantine him. They don’t know about him reading the teleprompter in interviews or being fed questions in townhall campaign events. It is a sad day when the legacy media cannot be trusted to tell the complete truth. Being a journalist, like being a regular human, should be easy: tell the damn truth.  

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