Julian Sanchez has a good piece about how the conservative misinformation loop got started in the first place:
The output may have varying degrees of liberal slant, but The New York Times is not fundamentally trying to be liberal; they’re trying to get it right. Their conservative counterparts—your Fox News and your Washington Times—always seem to be trying, first and foremost, to be the conservative alternative. And that has implications for how each of them connects to the whole ecosystem of media: Getting an accurate portrait is institutionally secondary to promoting the accounts and interpretations that support the worldview and undermine the liberal media narrative. Perhaps ironically, the trouble is that the novel conservative institutions that have emerged as an effect of technological innovation lack that Burkean reservoir of evolved, time-tested local traditions.
There’s another explanation that’s related to the rise of what I’ve called the politics of ressentiment, maybe best illustrated with the help of an example in the news lately. Constance McMillen, as you may have read, is a teenage lesbian in Fulton, Mississippi…..
But then gay-friendly sites—including traffic behemoth Perez Hilton—began linking the group, bringing a tsunami of comments from people all over the world, in numbers vastly dwarfing the original membership. Almost all condemned the actions of the school and parents, and supported Constance. Not a few doled out their own hateful stereotypes, heaping scorn not just on the school, but on southerners or Christians on the whole, as inbred rednecks. Photos were posted, and much speculation ensued about which rack at Walmart various prom dresses had come off.
Contemplate how vertigo-inducing this must be…
So here’s a hypothesis: Epistemic closure is (in part) an attempt to compensate for the collapse of geographic closure.
This is sort of right. American conservatism is essentially southern; more precisely, its foundations are southern resentment about the Civil War and civil rights. But I don’t think the lack of “geographic closure”, per se, plays such a big role — they’re not *that* mad about northern comments about a lesbian at a prom, relatively speaking, they’re mad about larger events that took place long ago. Also too I don’t know how much of contemporary American conservatism has anything to do with what is described as conservatism elsewhere in the world.
After a Democratic Congress and president passed civil rights legislation, it was a logical move for Republicans to exploit white anger over it. The rest, as they say, is history.