Sykes Backs Biden, Blasts Fox News
Fox News, Rush Limbaugh offer an "alternative reality silo," Sykes says. No mention of his own show.
Sykes, of course, has become one of the country’s better known Never Trumpers. After stepping down from 23 years as a right-wing zealot on talk radio, he quickly built a national reputation by dramatically recanting some of his views and blasting Republican President Donald Trump. That and the publication of his book, How the Right Lost Its Mind, helped win Sykes a gig as a contributor on liberal MSNBC and a position as editor-at-large at The Bulwark, a conservative publication that opposes Trump, while also doing occasional op eds for the New York Times.
“Whether you want to talk about fiscal prudence, free trade, American exceptionalism — one after another, those values were jettisoned, not to mention just the damage that’s been done to the American political culture by four years of Donald Trump,” Sykes told WPR reporter Elizabeth Dohms-Harter.
Sykes charged that the “Trumpification” of the Republican Party has been aided by conservative media such as Fox News, Breitbart and Rush Limbaugh. “It’s not just that there’s an echo chamber,” Sykes said. “It’s an alternative reality silo.”
“If you’re watching Fox News, you will see tremendous efforts to discredit that story, and actually discredit their own reporting of the story,” Sykes said.
Unmentioned was Sykes own role in enforcing hard-right Republican views for decades, bashing any independent thinkers within the party by deriding them as RINOS (Republicans In Name Only). The model for local talk radio hosts was Rush and his ditto heads, the goal was to get conservative listeners angry, to “perpetuate the notion that his or her listeners are victims, and the host is the vehicle by which they can become empowered,” as Sykes’ former boss Dan Shelley, who served for years as news director for WTMJ Radio, wrote in a feature story for Milwaukee Magazine. Sykes also operated based on talking points provided by the Republican Party, Shelley noted, while relentlessly bashing the “liberal” mainstream media as biased. His show was an alternative reality silo.
The point of Trump’s lies “is not to make you believe the lie,” Sykes told WPR. “It’s making you doubt your critical sensibilities, so you just shrug and go, ‘I don’t know who to believe. I don’t know what is truth.’ And that’s a dangerous place for a democracy.”
But back during his recantation period, which has apparently ended, Sykes admitted he had helped pave the way for Trump to lie with impunity, telling Business Insider that “We’ve basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers… All conservative hosts have basically established their brand as being contrasted to the mainstream media. So we have spent 20 years demonizing the liberal mainstream media…But, at a certain point you wake up and you realize you have destroyed the credibility of any credible outlet out there. And I am feeling, to a certain extent, that we are reaping the whirlwind at that. And I have to look in the mirror and ask myself, ‘To what extent did I contribute?’”
Quite a bit, actually. And for 23 years, not twenty.