MINOT, N.D. — I'll admit to not caring much about the Olympics.
I have a passing interest in watching the American athletes do well, and every once in a while a particular team or athlete will be possessed of a story that intrigues me, but beyond that my attention is usually elsewhere.
The Simone Biles story has been hard to avoid, though, if only because so many people have a take on her decision to forego competing in some of the events she qualified for. As I write this, Biles is back, saying she'll compete in the balance beam event, but the opprobrium her decision to sit out engendered still lingers.
Particularly from conservative media, bizarrely.
Conservative commentator Charlie Kirk called Biles a "selfish sociopath" and a “shame to the country.” Right-wing sports commentator Clay Travis said Biles should "apologize to her teammates for quitting on them at the moment they needed her the most."
Charles Sykes noted more examples in Politico, and you've probably seen many hot takes about Biles from your Trump-aligned friends and neighbors on social media.
What is the point of conservatives piling on Biles, though?
What conservative principle is advanced by attacking a young woman for making a decision in a situation few of us have ever been in?
Simone said she had a case of the "twisties."
Since I'm a fat, middle-aged writer, and not a world-class gymnast, I'm not familiar with the term, but apparently, it's a phenomenon "in which gymnasts feel like they get lost in the air." That sounds like it could be downright dangerous given the feats gymnasts pull off in their competitions.
If Biles — who has won 19 gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals, in various competitions in addition to the four gold medals she earned at the last Games, tying the record for a woman in any sport — doesn't feel like she could have safely competed, who are we to second guess her?
It's disappointing, for Biles as much as anyone, but does that make her a sociopath?
Of course not.
Why did conservative media, in particular, zero in on Biles?
Because in the Trump era, conservative media exists to engender and then exploit outrage. People like Kirk don't care about conservative ideas. They're out to corral a particular demographic, make them feel isolated and angry, and then exploit those feelings for money.
Much of conservative media's business model revolves around monetizing the culture war.
Biles and her struggles have no real bearing on public policy or political philosophy, but for a particular kind of grievance monger, they make good grist for the outrage mill.
Something for a person like Kirk to shout about in between ads for pain relief supplements.
Conservatives want to do something more than just be angry about things, they need to tune out the people making a living from outrage.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.