Conservatives often tease liberals about needing “safe spaces.” However, a massive new study by Columbia Journalism Review shows that right-wing Americans are far less likely to leave their comfort zones — at least when getting their news.
The study — based on an analysis of more than 1.25 million stories in the seven months before Election Day — revealed that Breitbart anchors an insulated media network through which pro-Trump audiences tended to get their news. And most of the media outlets in this network didn’t exist before 2008, when Barack Obama first ran for president.
Furthermore, this Breitbart-led network was the leading purveyor of “fake news,” the study found. Many of the most shared stories on social media during the election season were deceptive or outright false articles from conservative outlets. And these outlets built trust with right-leaning readers by regularly attacking opposing media — including traditional, politically centered outlets.
The end result? A misleading portrayal of reality that, from within, seemed perfectly coherent, the study found.
Does this mean that left-wing media bubbles didn’t play a role in the recent election? Hardly. However, pro-Clinton supporters weren’t nearly as intellectually isolated. According to CJR’s analysis, they regularly sought news from traditional media outlets with stories and viewpoints that challenged their worldviews.
So, based on this study, the fake news phenomenon is largely a right-wing problem. Unfortunately, conservatives are unlikely to learn about this study unless it’s covered fairly and accurately by Breitbart. The data suggests that’s not going to happen.