Like gravediggers measuring the landscape after the battle of Antietam, countless pundits have spent the last week offering post-election postmortems on the battered carcass of the Republican Party as its members withdraw into fetal positions, filled with a combination of shock and sour grapes.
Don't ask what went wrong. Instead, ask why it took so long to realize you were wrong. The reason: You were lied to misled, if you prefer.
If your information sources were the likes of Fox News and various conservative tributaries of Orwellian media, you were duped and they owe you an apology.
You were hoodwinked by a network that peddled denigration, demonization and marginalization as information; that invested earnestly in conspiracy theories and anti-science gibberish the rest of America dismissed; and that treated cockamamie candidates like Sarah Palin, Herman Cain and Donald Trump as plausible presidential timber.
How many hours did Fox News waste broadcasting Glenn Beck lunacy and how many are still wasted on pathetically transparent Sean Hannity mindlessness?
Is there a minaret atop the White House? Have your guns been taken away?
Did Christmas lose the war on Christmas? Was Katie Couric wrong?
Consider the ideologues' reaction when told in late October that President Barack Obama had a 75 percent chance of re-election. Whole armies of conservatives castigated New York Times statistician and blogger Nate Silver, whose only crime was a reliance on math, science and the laws of probability.
While some among the fatuous parade of conservative pundits conceded their forecasts were wrong, how many have acknowledged that the person they pilloried was not only correct but dead-on in his projection of all 50 states? He didn't miss one.
Reliable and universally heralded fact-checking organizations were deemed part of a vast liberal plot. Pollsters who gave the president a distinct post-convention bump suddenly were liars, but when those leads began to fade, the talk of lying pollsters disappeared. Why, because the numbers told you what you wanted to hear?
Fox News peddled all of this and more all the way to colossal embarrassment on election night. Karl Rove went into denial. Peggy Noonan insisted that those predicting an Obama victory were ignoring the world around them.
Dean Chambers, with no background whatsoever in statistics or polling, somehow became a de facto authority when he created UnskewedPolls.com, predicting at one point 359 electoral votes for Mitt Romney while concluding Nate Silver was not only wrong, but "thin and effeminate" and a "poster child for the New Castrati."
I see. Looks gay. Couldn't possibly be right.
In the real world, conservatives got clobbered on nearly every front by women, single women, Latinos, young voters and the "non-religious," which Pew Research describes as the nation's fastest-growing category of "religion." Obama won 70 percent of that vote.
Gay marriage won in all four states where it was on the ballot, including three by popular vote. Two states legalized recreational marijuana; another passed medicinal use. In a tough year, Democrats didn't just keep seats in the House and Senate, they gained seats, including the first openly gay senator (who also happens to be Wisconsin's first female senator).
Poisonous tea partiers like Allen West in Florida and Joe Walsh in Illinois were ousted. Minnesota's Michele Bachmann barely survived.
Tea party favorites like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were soundly defeated in states Republicans should have won. Apparently, uninformed ramblings about rape aren't exactly surefire campaign moves.
Fox News has consistently been on the losing side of these arguments, rarely bothering to rigorously tell you the truth, or even to bring you intellectually honest opinion. As the 2012 horse race ramped up, they saw instead a duty to spin constantly for a favored candidate rather than be straightforward about strengths and weaknesses. The real reality check is that conservative media did neither themselves nor their consumers any favors by thinking they could will a victory into fruition.
Yet we're to believe Sean Hannity now supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers because his position has evolved. This from a man who doesn't believe in evolution, who spent years telling the base that brown people are destroying America, leeching off our social services, committing all of our crimes and stealing all of our jobs. Does he have Romnesia?
There is no such animal as information overload. There is only filter failure, and every cable outlet fails to one degree or another. But the filter Roger Ailes has crafted, though a highly successful and much-emulated business model, is the most pitiable model of journalist integrity among the lot of them, the yield of which has been an otherwise well-intended core of decent Americans routinely spouting misinformation and outright falsehoods.
So this is less a production issue than a consumption issue, much like a bad diet. The question now is whether you'll continue to put up with it.
Are you going to join the fact-based world or not?