Monday, April 30, 2018

News Media Practices: Slanting, Implying, Innuendo, Speculating

Media Technique: Slanting

Senator Target was walking his dog in the park one morning, when he noticed a young girl had dropped her doll’s necklace. He hurried over and picked it up. “Excuse me, young lady,” he said, tapping her on the shoulder, “but I believe this necklace is yours.”
At that moment, the child’s mother looked over from a nearby park bench and saw the expression of fear and uncertainty on her daughter’s face. “Help! Police!” she shouted. “A man is molesting my child!” A park policeman soon arrived, and in spite of Senator Target’s protests, arrested the senator.
After a lengthy discussion at the station, Senator Target was released. However, a reporter assigned to the police blotter recognized the senator’s name. Soon there was a front-page story in the local paper, “Senator Target Charged with Child Molestation.” (The paper did run an “Additional Information” note on page 12 two days later, noting that the charges had been dropped.)
Picking up on the article in the local press, the Big City News ran an indignant editorial that included sentences such as, “Do we have no better people to represent this great state than rapists and child molesters?” and, “Reliable sources also tell us that Senator Target offered the four-year-old a jeweled necklace, apparently in an attempt to seduce the child into who knows what perverted situation.”
Senator Target issued a press release, explaining what actually happened. In response, the Big City News and now several other papers in the senator’s state ran stories with the headline, “Senator Target Claims He Is Not a Child Molester,” and quoting the child’s mother as saying, “Who knows what would have happened if the police hadn’t arrived when they did?” The story concluded with her comment, “I don’t trust that man.”
This comment spurred another, growing round of editorials, in which indignant editors sneered, “Who, indeed, can trust Senator Target, when he so willingly violates a child’s safe space by unlawfully touching her? Indeed, where is the law here?”
A new round of editorials soon emerged, calling for the State Attorney General to take charge of a criminal investigation and to uncover any collusion, bribery, or other prosecutable practices that might have resulted in the charges being dropped by the park police.
Hundreds of postings to social media echoed and further distorted and amplified the “facts” that were being “suppressed” by the newspapers. The papers occasionally noted that the new “facts” were unproven, as in, “An as yet unconfirmed report says that virtually all of the park police on duty that morning are members of Senator Target’s Federist political party. So no matter what the senator really did—which remains unclear—the police were likely willing to look the other way. That’s all the more reason for the Attorney General to get involved as soon as possible, to remedy this gross miscarriage of justice.”
At one point, it was discovered that Senator Target had attended a park fundraiser just three weeks before the incident with the little girl in the park, and that he had donated $400 for “park improvements.” The Big City News was all over it. “While, this donation could probably not technically be considered a bribe,” one of the paper’s editorials noted, “it certainly does smack of a quid-pro-quo inducement, not dissimilar to the protection money that crooked small town cops used to extort from helpless shopkeepers.” The donation was held up as an act of “questionable ethics” and “shockingly tone deaf decision making.”
When it came time for Senator Target to run for re-election, his opponent put up billboards and sent out flyers all over the state. Underneath a photo of the candidate embracing his wife, kids, and dog was printed, “Vote for Joe Doax for senate. He’s not a child molester.”
His political career over, Senator Target retired to a small cabin on a small lake, in a small village in another state.
Years later, two men who had worked at the Big City News when the scandal was hot were reminiscing on it. “You know,” said one, “what happened to Senator Target was almost unfair. Still, I guess, we did get rid of him.”
“Not only that,” said the other, “but we sold a lot of papers.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

OF COURSE, Russia Wanted Trump to Win

To: All Operatives
From: Vlad
Re: 2016 Presidential Elections
Date: Sometime 2015

We are in great position, comrades. In United States, is excellent prospect for furtherance of global agenda, the weakening, destabilizing, and ultimately destruction of West and Western Nations. We continue to plant "news" stories and release dossiers prepared by KGB Central, casting doubt on integrity and competence of all candidates. We have prepared collections of disinformation for each candidate, so that no matter who wins, we have much plenty to  use to blackmail or expose winner, thereby weakening foolish Americans' confidence in democracy and authority.

For preference, is almost tossup. There is Hilary Clinton, woman person, with much shady dealings, actually true, to be exposed, in addition to much we create. Then is Donald Trump, such easy target, who takes foot out of mouth only long enough to put other in. To choose, must be to prefer Donald Trump. News media, especially MSNBC CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNBC, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, all of which have our moles and stooges on staff, are all support of Hilary Clinton and oppose Donald Trump, so media will be cake walk to report on false stories created by KGB against Trump. Media will believe and report enthusiasm any story about buffoon, whereas would defend H. Clinton. as progressive woman.

Alert all agents to continue leaks and smears, and may most smearable win.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Yes, They Are Trying to Control Your Brain: Brain Railing

Sometime close to twenty years ago, I was in the market for a Chihuahua puppy. I visited a few pet stores and searched the classified ads in the newspaper (I did say this was  early twenty years ago), and located some possibilities. At one pet store, I was shown a loving, mocha-colored short-haired dog that impressed me so much I even named him, “Latte,” for his coat color. The downside, which I mentioned to the owner of the pet store, was the price--$1,000. I wondered aloud whether or not such a dog could be obtained for a lower price (hoping the owner might make a substantial adjustment). The owner scoffed, and said, “These pets are certified purebreeds. We get them from legitimate breeders, not from some Arkansas puppy mill.”
This declaration caused my mind to wander off the present issue and to focus on what kind of sinister locus of animal cruelty and exploitation an “Arkansas puppy mill” could be. This was one of my first exposures to brain railing, a common technique for controlling the focus of a discussion. Brain railing introduces a compelling idea, embodied in a compelling phrase, that immediately becomes the center of the conversation. It puts your brain on rails that can move your thinking along in only one direction, the one that responds to the phrase.
Students of logic will recognize brain railing as somewhat related to red herring, where the discussion is led off topic by the introduction of a new subject that demands attention. Commonly, in the past, the red herring was an entire sentence or more:

“I think the shortage of electricity could be addressed by building more nuclear electric generating plants.”
“But nuclear power is dangerous.”
“Actually, it has a great safety record.”
“But what about Hiroshima and Nagasaki?”

Suddenly, the subject changes from the desirability of nuclear power to the use of nuclear weapons.
In the past, a red herring was often only an off-the-cuff statement intended to derail the argument and move it in a direction that benefited its introducer. Now, though, the brain rail is more often carefully constructed as a memorable short phrase that obtrudes itself into the entire communication dynamic, changing the subject and forcing the focus of the discussion onto the new topic, as framed by the brain rail.
Brain rails can become part of the linguistic structure of our culture, serving as automatic, knee-jerk thoughts. As an example, a few years ago I was watching a quiz show where the object was for the contestant to guess a word based on a verbal clue given by a teammate. Thus, the word “waste” is a clue for the word “basket,” because “waste” and “basket” form a common pairing, so common, in fact, that “wastebasket” is now a single word.
But imagine my surprise when on the show the clue given was “religious,” and the teammate’s immediate guess, without a second’s hesitation, was “fanatic.” Not “religious service,” not “religious worship,” not “religious experience, “ not “religious book,” not “religious monastery,” but “religious fanatic,” now functioning as one of our culture’s habitual, preprogrammed brain rails.
Current brain rails sometimes have built into them the implication that the subject has been debunked, refuted, or otherwise discredited, so that it can be safely ignored. There is often an element of ridicule built into the phrase. In her book, The Smear, journalist Sharyl Attkisson says that the term “conspiracy theory” was created to allow easy dismissal of any explanation of events that conflicts with the official version. Referring to an explanation as “just a conspiracy theory” seems to imply that only toothless hicks and leftover hippies still smoking nontobacco products believe it. Other examples are “nuts and sluts” from the Bill Clinton era, “pseudoscience,” and, of course, “fake news.”
Many brain rails are constructed to force the discussion down a certain track, while ignoring or preventing an alternative discussion. A common example is “hate speech,” attached to any statement that the accuser disagrees with. Rather than a possibly fruitful discussion about a controversial idea, what follows is an attack on the character and motives of the accused, who must defend himself. Argument over terms ensues and the original topic remains unexplored.
Other examples of brain rails include “war on the poor,” “war on women,” “white privilege,” and “fair share.” In all of these cases, a controlling concept has been introduced that demands discussion under its own, biased terms.
We should strive to avoid adopting automatic response, fixed boxes to which we compulsively turn for our terms of discussion and our understanding of controversy. Concepts expressed in a phrase or a slogan are often contained in such boxes, unable to incorporate objective reality or measurable data into their ideological mass. While it is unlikely, in my experience, to move the discussion on to something profitable when interacting with someone insisting on following a brain rail down the road and around the bend, it might be an enlightening act to ask the railer to define his terms.
John: “I oppose affirmative action.”
Jake: “You’re a racist.”
John: “What is your definition of a racist?”
Jake: “You.”

This is a typical example of brain railing. Rather than engaging in a discussion of the pros and cons of affirmative action, the brain railer immediately changes the conversation away from an idea and onto a person. The subsequent discussion, if there is any, revolves around the guilt or innocence of one of the speakers, who feels attacked and defensive over the charge of racism.
Eventually, I bought two Chihuahua puppies, from a backyard breeder not far from my house. We just recently said goodbye to Bear after 18 years of joy and love. (His brother, Wolf, an equal source of joy and love, passed away four years earlier.) They weren’t pedigreed, certified purebreds, but one thing is for sure—they didn’t come from any Arkansas puppy mill.