In 2012, conservative columnist David Frum argued that "Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." What he meant was that a lot of people are making millions of dollars playing the American right-wing for suckers, selling them the hate and terror they've become so addicted to.
And it's still going on today. Peddling phony bigotry and fear is easy and the angrier the audience, the easier they are to fleece. Take, for example, the downfall of one "Mike Enoch." "Mike Enoch" is the pseudonym of Mike Peinovich and he spent years building up a popular neo-Nazi website called "The Right Stuff." With a podcast pulling in almost 100,000 listeners a week, "Enoch" was quite popular in white nationalist circles, regularly talking about his hatred of Jews and love of genocide.
But over the weekend, Peinovich was "doxxed" by liberal bloggers, meaning his personal information was released to the public. This included his real name and other useful information like the fact that his wife, who was actively involved with "Enoch's" hate-filled, antisemitic podcast is Jewish.
No, that was not a typo. The while thing was a scam and "Enoch" is the not the only one running the same con.
Last week, Raw Story dug up some old video of The Blaze's Tomi Lahren, a super angry, super bigoted siren for Trump's followers. Turns out that before she cashed in on hate she was just an ordinary centrist:
In the 2014 videos, Lahren (whose signature shout-at-the-camera approach is noticeably absent) can be seen acknowledging the scientific consensus that climate change is real, and advocating for lawmakers to address the “multi-dimensional issue” of gun violence.
This kind of talk would have her excommunicated by the Trump faithful in two seconds flat along with rape and death threats (we are talking about Trumpsters here).
In a similar vein, we've been watching Ann Coulter steadily escalate the venom of her rhetoric for years as her audience required ever greater doses of rage to get their fix. Now she's cozying up to white supremacists. Look for an attendant ratcheting up of hate speech as her columns will now be featured on America Renaissance, a popular destination for white supremacists of all kinds.
The bottom line is that these are people looking out for their bottom line and little else. And this is not a "both sides" thing. Rabidly racist people do not make a living pretending to be a tree-hugging liberal. Generally speaking, advocating for a higher minimum wage and gender equality is not the road to riches.
Making a living this way wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if that's all the conservative entertainment complex was doing. But like any addict, the fix loses it potency over time. The hate and rage delivered by the complex have been steadily ramped up until the entire political spectrum has been distorted to the point that Ronald Reagan would be considered a far left loon by the Tea Party. The result is the election of Donald Trump and an actual, real, existential threat to the human race as our nuclear arsenal is about to be in the hands of a person almost certainly suffering from some form of mental illness. It would be interesting to get an honest answer from Peinovich, Lahren and Coulter about whether they consider they harm they're inflicting as they enrich themselves at the expense of common decency but it's clear they've already made their choice.
As for the right-wing, they're locked into a spiral that can only lead to violence as their worldview become twisted beyond their ability to function in civilized society. Perhaps someday they will realize that they're drowning in nonsense but until then, there's still hundreds of millions of dollars to be made by feeding their sad addiction.