Not sure it’s broken, but definitely bent. Last week, Ed Whelan, a Republican operative who, despite his involvement in the slimming of John Kerry’s war record, is considered to be a Serious Conservative Thinker, launched a ridiculous notion that Kavanaugh’s accuser misidentified him (I guess all of those white people look alike or something). It didn’t go very far before being mocked and ridiculed–and not just by the left, but also Very Serious People.
Now, this doesn’t mean that conservative media doesn’t have an effect. After all, Il Trumpe is the stereotype of the Fox News demographic, and people routinely track how what appears on Fox News in the morning shows up later in his Twitter feed. Conservative media is still very good at whipping their Uruk-hai base into a fine lather.
But what made Fox News and other respectable-ish conservative outlets so pernicious is that they were able to mainstream the garbage that bubbles up from the nether regions of the conservative media sphere (essentially the id of very bad and stupid people). Mainstream organizations would cover nontroversies and ersatz scandals that worked their way in from the conservative margins. But with the Whelan allegations, they didn’t do this. To some extent, this could be due to movement conservatism becoming indistinguishable from a mass communicable psychotic break. Also, there is so much lying and mendacity from the right, which has significantly lowered the assumption of trust.
Regardless of the cause, it seems the Conservative Puke Funnel isn’t delivering quite as efficiently as it used to–and conservative politicians count on it. This can only be a good thing.