Friday, June 29, 2018

How to reach the Trumpers and the Fox News addicts

The "civility wars" have highlighted a larger question: If we wish to be heard by the kind of people who get their news from Fox, how should we speak? With kindness? With guile? With Spock-like dispassion? With insults and verbal violence?

I doubt that any current readers knew of this blog back in 2004, when I began. But the message of this post bears repeating.

The post was inspired by the defunct (and missed) radio network Air America. Thus, when I speak of "this medium," I mean radio. The lesson, however, applies equally well to television and especially to the ongoing war of Troll Against Troll on the internet.

*  *  *

Is it true -- as many have alleged -- that nuance has no place in this medium? Do listeners always prefer broadcasters who do their jobs with all the understated refinement of Conan the Barbarian?

The history of allied radio propaganda in Germany during World War II may provide an answer.

The allies faced a big problem: Any German caught listening to a broadcast unapproved by Goebbels could receive the death penalty. What was the best way to fetch an audience under those grim circumstances?

The British and the Americans decided upon a subtle approach. They put together German entertainment programs featuring music, comedy, and so forth. The broadcasts seemed to originate within the Third Reich. The news segments were pro-Hitler. But the broadcasts gingerly questioned the competence of Reich officials and emphasized wartime losses. The use of such understated methods would -- it was hoped -- slowly undermine confidence in Hitler's regime.

The Russians, by contrast, used "meat cleaver" tactics. No subtlety for them: They filled Germany's airwaves with incessant anti-Hitler rants, which took on a nearly hysterical tone. They also discovered ways to interrupt official Third Reich broadcasts with sneering commentary. They even heckled Hitler himself during his broadcast speeches.

Which form of propaganda worked best -- the subtle approach or the thuddingly obvious in-your-face approach?

Despite the risks, Germans listened to the Soviet harangues. Russia's propaganda campaign -- the verbal equivalent of a punch in the eye -- had far more impact than did the British and American equivalents.

The lessons for today are obvious. Anyone wishing to get a political message across through the use of the radio medium should take off the gloves and get ready for some bareknuckle brawling. Like it or not, that's what works.

I wish the situation were otherwise. I prefer more measured forms of discourse. But we have to take the audience as it is.

*  *  *

Cannon 2018 here: In light of the 2016 cyber attacks, it is fascinating to note that the Soviets were the original masters of the art of signal hijacking. Decades before the "Max Headroom" incident, the USSR had used the same basic technique to heckle Adolf & co.

The Russians even interrupted Admiral Doenitz when he delivered the official announcement of Hitler's death. Moments after Doenitz declared that Hitler had died a hero's death in the fight against Bolshevism, a mystery voice -- never identified -- hissed "This is a lie!" One can only guess as to how all of this affected the listeners; life must have seemed quite surreal at that moment.

(I'm not sure which part of the announcement was supposed to be false: Hitler's death or his alleged heroism. We now know that he did not die in battle. Some aver that he did not die at all, at least not at that time and place -- but that's a controversy for another post.)

Re-reading the 2004 post reprinted above, I find myself becoming depressed, as is my Eeyore-ish wont. It seems that subtlety and reasoned discourse do not reach the average citizen. Crude propaganda and sensationalism work. When they go low, we must go lower.

This is a fundamental flaw in our democracy, and I don't know what to do about it. 
Best commentary I have read on the subject:

"We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners"

"Liberals are using their cultural power against the right because it’s the only power they have left, and people have a desperate need to say, and to hear others say, that what is happening in this country is intolerable."
The plain unvarnished truth is you can't reach them. You have to write them off. It isn't just that they are brainwashed by Fox and other media. It is also they were raised with a certain mindset that says minorities and women are inferior, and only white dudes are entitled to the American Dream. You can never, ever change that mindset. Democrats cannot reach them nor should they.

These people would have to literally lose everything they have and be on the streets, as millions did during the Great Depression, to even begin to lose that mindset.
We respond best to bumper sticker bromides. Al Gore's second mistake was giving a detailed answer to journalists asking how he would implement his proposals for governing America
His first mistake was thinking that the print and broadcast news media would be neutral.
Trump isn't the Right fault, in away it is but not that he is in the white house. That's rest entirely on democrats,liberals and the left shoulders. Their approach to the election wasn't serious at all. They behaved in the worst possible way.
Yesterday, I turned over to his estate a vanload of items I'd been storing for my brother-in-law, twice removed.¹ That, in light of Mr Mike's mention of bumper sticker bromides and the previous blog entry, reminded me of a line from one of his poems, which he was later disheartened to find being circulated on an email list of 'Bumper Stickers Recently Seen in the Bay Area':

We have enough youth / How about a fountain of smart?


1. I.e., my first wife's brother -- and, until his death 18 months ago, my closest friend for some 35 years.
CNN ran a fake news story regarding the lack of workers for seasonal industries in the U.S. because of the migration controversies. What CNN failed to mention was that anyone on unemployment can be feted out and asked if they want a seasonal job.

The belief that only side is creating fake news just creates the never ending cycle of perpetual hate coming from both sides.
Anon 3:11 You should be free to express yourself. Of course, language is so oppressive you can even call it a snob, especially when it takes such grand thunkerry like your oeuvre up there and turn's it's claptrap into's nonsense. It's not your fault, though in a way it is, right?
But to be more charitable, forreals?? When ya say "Their approach to the election wasn't serious at all." I forget was it John Kasich Hillary or Bernie who talked about the size of their penis?
News from Britain: the Ayn Rand fan Sajid Javid is the betting market's favourite to become the next leader of the Tory party.

Yes, the motherfucker is an Ayn Rand fan.

Even those who are following Tory leadership matters may be unaware that at least EIGHT cabinet ministers have paid their subscriptions to the European Research Group chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg, namely Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, David Davis, David Gauke, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, Chris Grayling, and Brandon Lewis. So has Andrea Leadsom who attends cabinet meetings.

It's easy to imagine Rees-Mogg (who enjoys the Old Rite mass) falling out with Gove (the nutter who called Theresa May a "continuity Catholic" because her father was a Church of England priest of Anglo-Catholic persuasion).

Gove, to be sure, is fanatically pro-Zionist and he has established his credentials as a slurper towards Israel over many years, for example in his book Celsius 7/7. If he behaves himself, Rees-Mogg may keep him in the cabinet.

Rees-Mogg himself has led a charmed existence so far. A lot of work has gone into shaping his profile. He is much more liked in the population than he is in the metropolitan wine-drinking classes, whereas most people in the country think Gove is a shit. Rees-Mogg is a cartoon character in the same way that Trump is. Cartoons make strong brands.

Sure, one or more of Rees-Mogg's opponents wield at least a little bit of influence in Private Eye, where it has been suggested between the lines (the usual place) that he belongs to Putin. So it is possible that BANG, the guy could fall out of the picture fast, but I think that's unlikely. Start talking too much about Russian money and too many apples may fall out of the cart. Rees-Mogg is unlikely to get weakened by scandal. Remember who his father was.

Nowadays a candidate for the Tory leadership must run in the first round. They can't enter later after a "stalking horse" has caused another candidate to pull out, as used to be the case. Of course if Javid is already Rees-Mogg's puppet, there's no problem. But if Javid runs, that might be problematic for Rees-Mogg. So he needs Javid out of the way first.

When Javid was appointed to the Home Office as a token non-white face in response to what the political classes call the "Windrush" scandal (the Home Office harassment and expulsion of West Indians and their descendants, mainly black, who have a right to British citizenship), Rees-Mogg said Javid would make an excellent next leader of the Tory party when Theresa May resigns some time in the 2030s. He was obviously talking out of the side of his mouth in relation to both May and Javid.
"Broidy Breaks Off Hush Money Payments, Claims Breach Of Contract"

"Broidy is now calling the deal off, claiming that Davidson improperly discussed the hush money with another lawyer: Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ current lawyer."

"A Davidson spokesman denied the allegations to the Wall Street Journal, saying that “any accusation to the contrary is false and defamatory.”"

"Avenatti also weighed in, telling the Journal that “I’m neither going to confirm nor deny what information I have about this, whether it’s all been disclosed yet, or where I learned it. But I would encourage Ms. Bechard to disclose everything she knows about this situation to the public.”"

Broadband makes countering right wing narratives ever more difficult. Decentralized propaganda allows the process to be cheap, always on, and self-propagating. For better or worse any true believer or opportunist can take part. Once someone is in the hate feed, the daily sought-out outrage dopamine hits keep them going and going. Through family visits I've discovered that the in thing is to spend hours a day watching right wing conspiracy theorists on Youtube and exchange all these insightful videos, not to mention blog posts, Fox news stories, and Infowars dreck, with each other through mass emails. That cruel world view is now their gospel. Getting out of the bubble would require some willingness on their part to listen to a different story.
DoD quietly discharging all those soldiers who were guaranteed citizenship for enlistment. Seems they are all of a sudden some kind of security risk or something. I'm guessing that once Trump hands the Middle East over to Putin on the 16th at Helsinki those troops will be excess.
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