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A fellow named Matthew Sheffield played a key role nearly two decades ago in the rise of the now-raging existential national threat of alternative conservative media.

The "alternative" has become to facts, such as Joe Biden being president-elect.

Sheffield blogged notably in 2004 about CBS and Dan Rather falling for phony documents questioning George W. Bush's service in the National Guard.

From that, Sheffield became a founder of a website monitoring liberal bias in the regular media.

Since then, it appears he's ... evolved.

And since last week's election, he has been a tour de force on Twitter exercising the power and insight of his conversion--not to liberalism but away from what's become of the conservative movement.

He has come to see contemporary conservatism as a religion, an identity and an ideological mission rather than an enterprise of fact and policy.

It's all come to a head in recent days over the spectacle of Donald Trump's refusal to accept the plain fact that he was defeated for re-election. Much of the alternative conservative media chooses to embrace Trump's destructive nonsense about election robbery. It reports instead, to millions of believing viewers, the utter concoction of a supposed conspiracy to cheat Trump.

Fox News has become the left flank of alternative conservative media. It has committed the heathenry of paying Chris Wallace to ask real journalistic questions and deploying anchors with the audacity to accept the numbers in the presidential race.

Fox survives in the post-fact modern conservative world by showcasing its finest nonsense in prime time with Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. Its reasonable imitation of journalism during daytime broadcasting has left it vulnerable to the eager exploitation attempted by worse outfits like One America, Newsmax, and Breitbart.

You can read an important Twitter threat on all of that from Sheffield here: https://twitter.com/mattsheffield/status/1325494553361608705.

Meanwhile, I'll expound on his points, which I embrace as compelling, indeed vital if we are to recognize our cancer so we can treat it.

It is true that much of mainstream media is liberal. I know that from having been in and around it for decades, and being liberal myself in it.

But the liberalism has been personal more than partisan or professional, revealed over beers among intimates after work but kept largely in check in the newsroom. That's not to say a pervasive liberal sensibility hasn't affected the choice of matters to cover and the display and tone of that coverage. No one is kidding anyone on that, and shouldn't try.

It works this way: The New York Times can be awash in personal liberalism, but also--at the same time, and in the same human bodies--awash in journalists so devoted to honoring the craft of vital news coverage that the paper can become a Democratic president's least favorite publication.

I refer to Bill Clinton, not to mention Hillary, and the Times' insistence decades ago--owing to a sense of responsibility to reveal a president objectively without regard for broad issue agreement--on hammering and re-hammering the non-story of Whitewater.

In that case the Times bent too far backward to honor the journalistic craft, keeping alive a limping narrative until Kenneth Starr used it to diversify into voyeurism.

There is a vast and epic difference between legitimate news organizations with a liberal bias and conservative media organizations sprung up in response that are not legitimate as news organizations, or staffed by people much interested in journalism, but devoted entirely to celebrity, entertainment and ideological missions.

This conservative media won't say that Trump lost because the greater cause is that liberals be forever cast as losers. It's that the presidential vote count is less important than the transcendent goal of glorifying all things conservative and demonizing all things not.

Tens of millions of Americans watch only the conservative media because they've been given credible reason over the years to believe the mainstream organizations are liberally biased. They think they're getting the real truth now when what they're now missing is much closer to the real truth than what they're hearing.

A solution is essential for the restoration of a functional political society. But that solution is not for mainstream media craftsmen to become less liberal by personal nature. And it's not for conservative media alternatives to stop being conservative.

Let's all be ourselves. It's easier and more honest that way.

The solution is for conservative media alternatives to ramp up the journalistic craft, hiring more Chris Wallaces and admitting the numbers of an election. It's for them to give the occasional Republican politician the same treatment The New York Times gave Bill Clinton, because journalistic integrity and accountability matter more than personal political preference.

The even tougher question remaining would be whether viewers have been become too conditioned otherwise to be able to sit through a little objectivity.

How do you get back to fact in a post-fact world? That will be our hardest question.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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