EDITOR OF REDSTATE
W5 + H = A Baseline for Integrity
UPDATE: Let me add up top an update out of the gate. The issue here is not RedState, but a larger issue among conservatives as we keep growing new and expanding existing outlets for reporting the news. With our jobs board up (if you haven’t noticed), I want to help put solid conservatives in reportorial positions throughout the movement. Now is the time to stop lamenting conservative reporters not having access to the media and instead now is the time to start running a deeper pool of interest and start getting people involved who don’t want to be the investigative “stick it to the other guy” reporters, but the basic who, what, where, when, why, and how reporters.
It is not my intention to criticize colleagues, friends, or those others might perceive as competitors though who are more honestly characterized as collaborators in the noble fight for freedom. Many on the right do hard work and great work uncovering stories the mainstream media ignores or fails to follow up on. But I have had a nagging sense for a while that something is wrong. At the same time, I did not want to say anything on this front, when so many are doing work RedState has not committed itself to doing full time, because it would seem I was criticizing without offering a solution.
I think conservative media is failing to advance ideas and stories. Certainly part of that is because the general media has an ideological bias against conservatives, which makes it harder for the media to take our views seriously. But many conservatives are, instead of working doubly hard to overcome that bias, just yelling louder about the same things. The echo in the chamber has gotten so loud it is not well understood outside the echo chamber in the mainstream press and in the public. It translates only as anger and noise, neither of which are conducive to the art of persuasion.
Conservatives are trying so hard to highlight controversies, no matter how trivial, we have forgotten the basics of reporting: W5 + H as I learned in grade school, also known as who, what, where, when, why, and how. I think conservatives need to reset some of their reportorial resources to tell the stories that need to be told by focusing on the facts at hand in a world view of the right. We need to establish a baseline for integrity in reporting that then allows us to highlight the truly outrageous. That baseline must be the basics of who, what, where, when, why, and how and it must be set before taking the next step into analysis of motivation and its implications.
The “Obamaphone” is a great example of this. Conservatives laughed out loud at the video of the lady saying Barack Obama had given her a phone. Conservatives used it as an example of all that was wrong with the expansion of the welfare state under Barack Obama. What many conservatives missed was that the program was a pre-existing program. In fact, the “Obamaphone” idea goes back to the Reagan Administration, but the present program was implemented in 2008 when George W. Bush was President. Government funds are not even used directly.
Focus on the Obamaphone by conservatives missed a number of key points and, in not covering the basic facts, sent conservative activists down rabbit holes. It would have been helpful if conservative reporters spent more time laying out the basic who, what, where, when, why, and how of the issue before exploring the necessity of the program and the fact that there are Americans who credit Barack Obama with giving them that phone.
Conservatives went to the critique in some cases before fully understanding the program. This happens on both sides of the aisle, but conservatives have to be better informed and more versed in the facts because the media already leans left and gives more latitude to the left.
Just as troubling, there are some conservative reporters out there who aim for the basic facts, but get stuck on talking points. Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, myself, and others have been lamenting a lot of conservative reporters for this very reason. These reporters seem to covet access to the Speaker, Senate Minority Leader, and Leadership. They report on the Republican leadership’s side without question and turn conservatives in Congress into the butt of jokes.
On more than one occasion I’ve seen conservatives treat the GOP Leadership skeptically until a friend is hired by Leadership. Suddenly, the agnostic reporter becomes a believer and often uses his perch to undermine conservatives in Congress on behalf of leadership. Everyone should be questioned and friendship with the Speaker’s and Leader’s staffs should not be a goal.
More often than not these days, conservatives are being undercut by their own leadership in Congress and not the Democrats. A conservative press that caters to the talking points of the leadership is helping undercut the conservative agenda.
There are scandals to uncover and there are outrageous stories to be outraged over, but I would submit conservatives are spending a lot more time trying to find things to be outraged over than reporting the news and basic facts online from a conservative perspective. In my ideal world, RedState would have a couple of reporters to focus on the basics and the depth.
I would like to see a reporter or two focusing on the W5+H of Capitol Hill and the White House with another who can go beyond the basics and provide the analysis of how those facts will impact conservatives, where conservatives stand, and how the ultimate policies and politics in play will affect the country. I just do not see the need to get outraged over things without first having all the facts at hand. Further, I do not see the need to get outraged over everything, when better targeting of stories that truly resonate would serve conservatives well. We do our cause more harm than good if we get outrageously outraged over every slight and grievance. Yes there is an institutional media bias against the right, but we must also honestly acknowledge that conservatives have also screamed “Wolf” a these past few years more often than there was one.
Conservatives must start telling stories, not just producing white papers and peddling daily outrage. The stories we choose to tell should have all the information we need to be informed of facts and paint a picture of those facts’ impact. RedState has a very simple mission statement: educate conservative activists, motivate them to engage, and provide tools for easy activation and empowerment. Along the way, we try to be a compass to the conservative movement, pointing to the truth north of conservatism and letting policy makers and legislators decide how far from that truth north they must deviate.
Educating conservatives is a critical component of our mission. We have never viewed RedState as a site engaged in reporting, but as a site engaged in activism. Though occasionally we do break news, it has not been central to our existence. But, an honest accounting of facts and news is important and mission critical. Consequently, I would like to hire some reporters who can help educate conservative activists — who will not be focused on the outrage du jour, but focused on the daily grind of Washington and how the sausage being ground out in Washington will affect the conservative movement and the nation. Over time, I would like to expand this to covering governmental sausage making in the states too.
Other sites are doing great work uncovering scandals and highlighting outrageous antics. I want RedState’s focus to be the daily news that should direct the focus of the conservative movement and then take the next step of uncovering how both Democrats and squishy Republicans are abusing the trust of the American people. I want to focus on why conservatives view their strategy at superior to Republican leaders when the two conflict and put a spotlight on efforts to either merge or separate conservatives from the establishment.
If you are interested in being a part of this, send your resume to email@example.com. You’ll need to live in Washington. You’ll need to be self-directed. You’ll need to be pro-life.
And just to be more precise — this is not so much about just getting some talent for RedState, but to start a bank of talent for the larger conservative movement. Other groups are interested. RedState has resources into the grassroots across the heartland to help find and vet the talent to help out others who realize we must, to a degree, reinvent the wheel on basic reporting. We want to help.
We’re going to start doing things right — here, and now.