Matthew Sheffield started his first conservative website in 2000, dedicating it to criticism from former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, who Mr. Sheffield believed was an important liberal and critical to President Clinton during the Moniz Lewinsky scandal was not. Mr. Sheffield then went on to help create Newsbusters, another right-leaning website that criticized the mainstream media for its liberal bias. Later, he became the founding online managing editor of the Washington Examiner, another popular outlet for conservative ideas.
“I basically built the infrastructure for a lot of conservative online people and personally taught a lot of them what they know,” he said.
But Mr. Sheffield, who is 42 and lives in the Los Angeles area, has become disenchanted in recent years. He said the facts were considered acceptable casualties in the wider political war. “Scher said,” justifies the instrument, said Mr. Sheffield, who hosts a politics and technology podcast called Theory of Change and is writing a memoir about growing up in a strict Mormon family . He now blames the right-wing media for undermining faith in American democracy by spreading unfounded claims of electoral rigging by President Trump and others. Through websites and platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, Mr. Sheffield said, right-wing media have created an environment in which a large proportion of the population believes in a “separate reality”.
In a recent interview, edited for length and clarity, Mr. Sheffield discussed how it got to this point.
What are the most important things about right-wing media that people do not understand?
Almost all right-wing support in the United States comes from the idea that Christians are under attack from secular liberals. This point is so important and so poorly understood. Logic does not matter. Fact-checking does not matter. What matters is if I can use this information to show that liberals are evil. Many of them are not interested in reporting to the world in this way, but to shape the world as they want it to be.
In a recent poll, about 70 percent of Republicans believe the election was rigged. When President Trump is spreading misinformation about the results, can it be blamed on the right media?
They follow along with what they say. Before Trump won in 2016, the conservative media was, in fact, beginning to develop a marginal sense of freedom. But once he became president, he simply separated. You can no longer have a conservative outlet unless you worship Donald Trump. Your business will be destroyed. If you are against Donald Trump with only a few exceptions, you cannot make a career in the conservative media.
Would this be possible without Facebook and social media platforms?
Facebook is the primary authority and protector in the United States, without question. The company has sheltered and promoted this material for years. Mark Zuckerberg even goes so far as to say that Steve Bannon has not justified prohibiting begging from him. Zuckerberg was fine with tolerating Holocaust denial until he was called out for it.
Do you see a way out of this, or will the problem get worse?
The first step is to improve the diet of people with their knowledge. If you are not eating anything other than candy or food poisoning, you are going to get sick. If you can improve your news diet to include things that you like but other things that may be challenging for you then you are a better savvy of life. In the information age, people who control information control the age. This is something that the right-wing media system has understood.