Paul Waldman

We’ve been told a lie about rural America

There’s a story Republicans tell about the politics of rural America, one aimed at both rural people and the rest of us. It goes like this: 'Those coastal urban elitist Democrats look down their noses at you, but the GOP has got your back. They hate you; we love you. They ignore you; we’re working for you. Whatever you do, don’t even think about voting for a Democrat.' That story pervades our discussion of the rural-urban divide in US politics. But it’s fundamentally false. The reality is complex.

Why President Trump's war on the media is a failure

[Commentary] Is President Donald Trump losing his war on the media? There’s the conservative information bubble. President Trump wants his people to retreat further inside of it, so they’ll never hear a discouraging word about him and his greatness. So how is that working out for him? Is it keeping his approval ratings from being the lowest of any president in history at this point in his term? Does it enable him to win arguments over things like whether he referred to “shithole” countries?

How Trump’s obsession with the media endangers his presidency — and all of us

[Commentary] We’ve never had a president who was this obsessed with the news media, and that obsession is going to continue to shape his presidency. Cable news in particular seems to be a far more important influence on Trump’s thinking than any intelligence briefing or government economic data. And that means we’d better get used to the chaos of Trump’s first month in office, because it’s going to last for four years. Cable news is ruling Trump’s attention. The erratic nature of cable news makes Trump’s focus more erratic.

How the fall of the godfather of conservative media could save the GOP

[Commentary] Roger Ailes’ downfall is one of the most consequential events in years when it comes to the evolution of the conservative movement and even the fate of the Republican Party. This is the end of an era — and we might even look back and say that it was the best thing that’s happened to the GOP in a long time. So why is this so important? It’s because Fox News is the epicenter of the conservative media universe, and it in turn shapes the way every Republican from the loftiest elected official to the loneliest viewer sees the political world.

Ailes, who had been both a TV producer and a Republican media consultant before Murdoch tapped him to create the channel two decades ago, was an undeniably brilliant executive, fashioning a network that perfectly balanced two goals: Making gobs of money, and serving the interests of the Republican Party as he saw them. There is almost no one who has been more influential in the last two decades in shaping how Republicans see themselves, Democrats, and the world. But during the Obama era, some people have begun to question whether Fox’s undeniable power is really serving the movement in the way they thought it was. For many years, Fox was seen as a source of nothing but benefit for the right: It offered a megaphone to disseminate conservative arguments and talking points, a forum for Republican politicians to get exposure, a means of uniting the right around common ideas (instructing everyone on what to be angry about and what to celebrate), and a way of pressuring the mainstream media into adopting a more conservative-friendly outlook.