Tuesday, February 06, 2018


Republicans backed the release of the Devin Nunes memo even though they knew, or should have known, that its most dramatic claims would be swiftly debunked. That's happening now:
Republican leaders are acknowledging that the FBI disclosed the political origins of a private dossier the bureau cited in an application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, undermining a controversial GOP memo released Friday....

“Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials,” the memo alleged.

But in an appearance on "Fox & Friends," Nunes was asked about reports over the weekend that the FBI application did refer to a political entity connected to the dossier. It is unclear precisely what language the application might have used.

Nunes conceded that a "footnote" to that effect was included in the application....
They're counting on the most rabid members of their base to tune out any information that contradicts the GOP narrative, even if the information is on Fox, because the plan is to fill the right-wing press with story after story, pundit monologue after pundit monologue, describing the Russia probe as an unspeakable evil. They assume that will work. And the most loyal Republicans will undoubtedly take the bait.

But this standard election-year tactic of the GOP worked better in the past, when the good-versus-evil narrative also resonated with right-wing and right-centrist voters who were only moderately loyal to the GOP. Past narratives worked better because they tapped into visceral fears and prejudices shared by less-devoted Republican voters. I think Republicans believe this will work the same way, but I'm not sure they're right.

I'm thinking about the ACORN and "Ground Zero mosque" narratives in the run-up to the 2010 midterms. The ACORN narrative tapped into a widespread belief among even less-loyal right and right-centrist voters that black people are devious and shifty. The "Ground Zero mosque" narrative tapped into those voters' fears of another 9/11, and of Muslims in general. Add in anti-Obamacare anger -- even moderately rabid righties and right-centrists fear "socialism" -- and it's no surprise that the propaganda worked. The right-wing narrative drowned out rebuttals from left and center media sources because the right was tapping into deep emotions.

In 2014, right-wing propaganda played on fears of Ebola. Again, there was a counternarrative from the left and center, but it's unsurprising that the right's messaging had power -- the fear being stoked concerned Ebola, a terrifying disease (from Africa!).

What visceral fear is the right's current narrative tapping into? Rabidly loyal Republicans will swallow anything Fox News dishes out, but less-loyal right-leaning voters have been conditioned over the years to trust law enforcement. Sure, they've also been trained to hate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and "elitists" generally. But ACORN demagoguery made them fear a government takeover by Those People. "Ground Zero mosque" demagoguery made them fear an invasion by Christian- and Jew-hating terrorists. Ebola demagoguery made them fear an epidemic of horrible deaths.

The current demagoguery makes them fear ... being subject to a FISA warrant? I'm not sure that's going to work on anyone but the most zealous GOP voters. It's just not frightening enough. GOP propagandists will have to find a new narrative to carry that wave of voters along. I don't think this one will work. I don't think the fears it engenders are enough to drown out the debunkings.

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