If the public’s trust in traditional media hadn’t dipped to historic lows, Terry McAuliffe could very well be Virginia’s governor-elect right now.
Without the erosion in support from the Cronkite era to today, the mainstream media would continue to own the political narrative.
Instead there’s been an explosion in conservative alternatives to the legacy media in the generation since Fox News debuted.
Bacon’s Rebellion succinctly explains how that phenomenon played a significant role in the Republican Party’s Virginia sweep:
Youngkin does indeed deserve credit for harnessing the parents’ rebellion against “critical race theory.” Parents of school children shifted decisively from McAuliffe to Youngkin during the campaign. But there’s a big piece of the story that everyone is missing: how conservative media established the narrative of “critical race theory” and made it a top-tier issue in the election, catching the Washington Post flat-footed in the year’s biggest political story unfolding in its own back yard.
Scrappy conservative publications have long served as a counter to the dominant liberal media. They have served as a partial antidote to the dominant progressive narratives of our time, plugging voids in mainstream coverage by filling in “the other side of the story.” But they always played defense. This is the first time I can recall in which conservative media seized upon a narrative and drove an issue that decisively influenced a statewide election.
Do not underestimate the importance of this. The power of the mainstream media to craft narratives and frame the issues confers an extraordinary advantage to Democrats, both nationally and in Virginia. A Washington Post exit poll of voters in Tuesday’s election shows that 36% define themselves as conservative compared to only 23% who call themselves liberal, with a 41% identifying as moderates. Ideologically, Virginia voters lean conservative. Virginia should be a red state, but it hasn’t been for years — until this year.
Youngkin did not create the parents’ rebellion, he just figured out how to ride it to victory. A grassroots movement of parents created the rebellion, and conservative media fanned the flames.
What do you think was the biggest factor in Tuesday’s GOP victories? As always, tell us below!