TPM Reader HM wonders what’s up with some of the right-wing pundits on immigration reform …
Adam Serwer has an absolutely fascinating piece about right-wing media and immigration reform called “Will Conservative Media Give the GOP Cover to Make A Deal on Immigration?”. Money quote: “For the moment, conservative pundits are playing up a distance between Rubio’s proposal and the Democrats that doesn’t really exist. That could make a potential compromise seem more palatable to the Republican base.”
What’s so interesting is the decision-making process of pundits like Sean Hannity. He’s usually such a party-line hack that I was actually surprised to learn he was one of the many conservatives who refused to fall in line on George W. Bush’s immigration proposal. (Not sure where he stood on Harriet Miers, the other big instance I can think of when talk radio and Fox turned against the Bush administration.) Essentially Hannity chose his own interests, which are served by stoking the anger and paranoia of his audience so they’ll tune in to his show and buy his books, over those of the leaders of his party, even as he’s putting at risk to some extent his narrative that Bush=Awesome. For Republicans, the incentives were totally fucked.
But this time, for some reason, after a devastating election Hannity’s willing to push against the grain in the opposite direction, pushing his viewers and listeners to resist their natural aversion to Hispanics; it’s just that as he does it, he’s pretending this switch is consistent with his narrative that Obama=Awful, and presumably also pleasing his elite GOP buddies, including his über-boss Rupert Murdoch, who supports reform. (Interesting question: is there a split between Murdoch and Roger Ailes here?) It’s a tricky move.
It’s also interesting that Ingraham, Hannity, O’Reilly, etc. are all on board but Rush is not. I’m not sure I’m clearly articulating what’s so intriguing about this. It’s a very visible example of the tension, which many have written about, between what helps Republicans win and what drives the Right Wing Media-Industiral Complex.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.