Were you aware that Fox News Channel sometimes fails "to question... anonymous, and quite absurd, claims?" Or that the right-leaning cable news network sometimes inflates implausible narratives by deciding on a "thematic link" in advance and searching for footage to fit that storyline? Yes, for several years now? Well then you're several steps ahead of conservative blogs like the A-List Ace of Spades or Michelle Malkin's startup Hot Air, which all of a sudden are none too happy with Fox News for claiming Sarah Palin doesn't know that Africa is a continent. Welcome to the last gasps of what Hillary Clinton called the "vast right-wing conspiracy!"
Ace of Spades said Fox News' coverage, which cited anonymous McCain staffers claiming Palin refused debate prep and didn't know what countries are in North America, was "Bullshit Video of Bullshit Claims." Those Fox bastards! Next thing you know, they'll be claiming Palin can't name a single magazine or newspaper under questioning.
Despite this split, the conservative movement is of course not over, not by a longshot. What's left of it may be in tatters, the bankers torn from the fiscal conservatives torn from the religious fundamentalists and blue-collar workers, but it will be reconstituted, someday, by someone whose last name isn't Palin or Kristol or Rove or, in all likelihood, at all recognizable from following the news the past eight years.
But the right's media-industrial complex, long the envy of milquetoast liberals weaned on mild Times and NPR reports, is being foreclosed upon, a process under way for some time. Witness the "conspiracy's" most recent self-destruction:
- Fox's Bill O'Reilly interviewed lefty Obama after the Republican nominee turned him down, and has been otherwise off-message for the last coupe of months at least ("O'Reilly lost me as a viewer when he went on his rant against conservatives who were against the financial bailout," wrote one of many haters in the comments at Ace).
- Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, under the influence of young wife Wendi Deng, is now a huge Obama fan and rumored embarrassed by the boorish partisanship of O'Reilly and Fox News chief Roger Ailes.
- The National Review just fired its founder's son for endorsing Barack Obama.
- Matt Drudge's transparent campaign against Barack Obama was largely ignored, including by the media elites who used to turn to his site for leads.
- Now the schisms have, inevitably, surfaced on right-wing blogs, with the attacks on Fox's Palin-Africa story.
At some point conservative pundits will embark upon the "rebuilding" they promised just hours ago in the wake of their latest and most abject defeat. But there's apparently way too much accumulated bitterness to start that process right away, as shown by the McCain campaign's now-public infighting, and the right-wing-media's ensuing public bickering over how to cover that infighting.