The conservative media message discipline raises two questions: Is it good for conservatives, and is it good for journalism? The first point is debatable; liberals often wish they had a mechanism for whipping dissident Democrats into line akin to the Fox effect. But it is undoubtedly bad for journalism, even opinion journalism. There’s nothing wrong with journalism conducted through an ideological prism, but at its best such reporting and commentary upholds the same values of mainstream journalism. It pursues truth, offers both sides of an argument (albeit before reaching a conclusion), and expands the realm of discourse. Rigid partisanship, by contrast, places truth below political ends, ignores inconvenient facts or analysis, and constricts the parameters of debate. To the extent that conservatives want to keep Republicans in line, the conservative media serves them well. But insofar as conservatives want an ideological media that informs and expands their understanding of the world, it does not.

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Ben Adler covers climate-change policy for Grist and is a contributing editor for CJR