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Posted at 05:45 PM ET, 10/17/2012

PostScript: Responding to the debate’s echo chamber

The Echo Chamber Effect struck hard in last night’s presidential debate, report Erik Wemple and Jonathan Bernstein today on The Post’s Opinions page. The right wing has its own media, which is designed to counter the bias of everyone who is not part of the right-wing media. These right-wing media drill down into stories and topics the rest of the media ignore. Thus, each media has its own echo chamber, and almost never do the twain meet, and most everybody’s happy about it. We partisans like our echo chambers; everything comes in SurroundSound.

Except when the two sides confront directly, as they did in last night’s debate, and SurroundSound becomes a Cacophony. According to Bernstein and Wemple, Mitt Romney followed a perfectly internally rational right-wing-media meme that was contradicted by the mainstream moderator, Candy Crowley. Convinced by his choice of media that President Obama had taken two weeks to connect to terrorism the deaths of four Americans in Libya, Romney pursued that string into a labyrinth he couldn’t easily get out of. Boom. Echo chamber got ya, pal!

PostScript has a major analytical advantage here in that the comments of the Post Opinions page happen to generously sample both the right wing and mainstream echo chambers. Therefore, she reads a lot of veiled allusions to things that are never explained but presumably are referencing familiar memes that make one particular candidate look terrible.

One of these things is “Obamaphone.” People have been saying it for a couple of weeks now, accusing one another of having an Obamaphone or just mentioning it as if it’s a reason we should agree with the rest of the commenter’s point. Despite PostScript’s careful attention to Post comments, whatever the point of bringing up Obamaphones is, it is ineffective on her as an absorber of media. Maybe it works for you: KMichaels

I watched the Fox response and it was rather well balanced and accurate. I guess you see what you want to see. Free Obama phone anyone?

Likewise the apology tours, or the Teleprompter thing. Hearing JUST the echoes doesn’t really work.

Today, the echo chamber thing is parsing Obama’s Rose Garden statement in such a manner that he did NOT say the Benghazi attack was terrorism. He was talking about other attacks, says Lukey:

LOL! Left wing spin machine in overdrive on this. He referred to GENERIC “Acts of terrorism” in his Rose Garden speech. Was he referring to Benghazi at that point? Who knows?

And, as commenters on Wemple and Bernstein’s articles argue, the fact that we’re all talking about semantics this afternoon, when there are much more important things to be talking about re Benghazi is an unforced error on Romney’s part. And counterproductive in general.

mdh531 is frustrated with arguing over phrasing:

This whole conversation about calling the Bengazi events, or anything,an act of terror, is so far from what ought to be the main point. Finding out what happened, why and correcting things so it is less likely to happen again. Bunch of school house/media house lawyers running around with meters to make sure the lapdogs are speaking the correct language.

EnemyOfTheState doesn’t even care about the substance of the phrasing debate. It’s more complicated than labels:

I still don’t understand why people are fixated on whether it was a terrorist attack or the result of a protest. It’s a nation in the midst of revolution, and it was a fluid, chaotic situation in the aftermath. The whole thing reeks of political opportunism, and is just a talking point for the GOP to score points on foreign policy. If it wasn’t an election year, interest in this would have faded long ago.

And lohengrin has an issue we should be talking about instead but aren’t: The early statement by diplomat Susan Rice that the riots were caused by a moronic video:

While I agree with Bernstein’s insulation argument, I did my own checking and must say that Susan Rice did something really stupid which made Obama look bad.

jlmulder offers another downside of the Echo Chamber Effect:

I believe there is another very important truth that the “feedback loop” is preventing Republicans from seeing. Within the loop, Romney’s rocketing poll numbers are being attributed to strong debate performance and continueing conservative messaging. The real reason his numbers are up is because “Moderate Mitt” showed up and despite what the right wing claims, most of America doesn’t want all these right wing initiatives and conservative social agenda items.

PostScript is not the first in the mainstream media echo chamber to dare mention Obamaphones! But she will carefully explain. According to Snopes, it’s from one of those rumor-filled, much-forwarded emails, a weird apparent spin on a federal program that provides lower-income people access to discounted cell phone service, has existed since 1984 and has nothing to do with Obama. So PostScript supposes everything is working as it should, and she can go back to being mystified at the reference.

Hooray for the MSM echo chamber!

By Rachel Manteuffel  |  05:45 PM ET, 10/17/2012

 
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