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Lakoff writes: "Attacks on the free press, and constant lying by political leaders, aren't just happening here in the United States. These tactics are also being used by authoritarian leaders in other countries who are taking power using the same tactics as Trump."

CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. (photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. (photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)


It's Time for the Press to Evolve

By George Lakoff, George Lakoff's Facebook Page

18 December 18

 

ttacks on the free press, and constant lying by political leaders, aren't just happening here in the United States. These tactics are also being used by authoritarian leaders in other countries who are taking power using the same tactics as Trump.

These leaders understand how the press works, and they use its own tendencies against it in their efforts to erode democracy and freedom. They lie, knowing the press will repeat the lies. They create distractions because they know the press will chase the distractions. They release bad news when they think no one is paying attention. Too often, these tactics succeed.

It's time for the press to evolve. The press needs new rules, practices and guidelines to respond to the threat posed by lying authoritarians with no respect for truth, freedom, or democracy. These types of leaders attack the press because they see the truth as a threat. And it's the job of the press to report the truth.

Here are some suggestions members of the press can follow to #ProtectTheTruth:

-Ban the lie from the headline/tweet/chyron. Repeating lies only spreads them, and spreading lies is a disservice to the truth. It's possible to write engaging headlines without serving the lie. Always start with the truth, and always repeat the truth more than the lie.

-Use Truth Sandwiches. When writing about lies, always start with the truth first. Then explain the lie. Then return to the truth. Sequence and repetition matter! Truth first! Always.

-Separate News from Distractions. George Orwell said it best: "Journalism is printing what someone else doesn't want printed. Everything else is public relations." Trump's tweets have become a constant obsession for reporters. But his Twitter dramas generally just distract from the important news stories crucial to democracy. He issues crazy tweets, calls people names, and includes silly typos because he WANTS people to talk about his tweet. And those who give him what he wants need to remember Orwell's quote. What was the big story in the news before the Twitter drama started? Keep a steely focus on things that matter.

-Limit Trump photos. Images are crucial. Today, it seems like nearly every news story features a large photo of Trump. It's all Trump, all the time. It's a Trump overload. Editors need to be aware of the overall effect and make an effort to use a range of images to tell the story of our times. Politics is not just about the actors. It's about the millions of people who are affected by those actions.

-Outsmart the "Friday Dump." Politicians and corporations tend to release bad or unflattering news late Fridays, and especially on three-day weekends. This is because people pay less attention to the news at this time. So, the use of the "Friday Dump" is a tactic for hiding the truth from people. Imagine if anyone who tried this was instead greeted with a big Sunday or Monday story that also told people they were trying to hide the truth by dumping it on Friday.

These are just a few draft ideas. We'd be interested in hearing any ideas YOU may have. The real goal is to encourage members of the press around the world to engage in a serious discussion about the changes needed to protect the truth in dangerous times like these. Click below to hear more in Episode 15 of FrameLab, the podcast about politics, language and your brain!

https://soundcloud.com/user-253…/15-how-to-protect-the-truth

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Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+35 # ddd-rrr 2018-12-18 11:03
Thanks, George Lakoff, for this article, and to RSN for republishing it!

This is important advice, which needs to be followed if we are to escape
this monstrous administration' s machinations, and save our country.
 
 
+15 # tr4302@gmail.com 2018-12-18 12:55
Thank you for appreciating another pebble in the pond. Keep the faith. Tom Rose
 
 
+2 # ddd-rrr 2018-12-20 07:51
Thank you for your comment; it was more than interesting! I had never known there was a term for what I had discovered intuitively while working in local politics, ever so many years ago: that publicly placing here and there some small comments, concepts, and ideas could eventually work to "move mountains". I was surprised by the number of successes resulting from doing this, with some of them appearing, in advance, to be very difficult to achieve! I did also make a conscious effort to effect results that I thought were beneficial at the time.

Trump obviously knows about this process (having made a study of "how to influence people"), but he uses it constantly at his "rallies" and in his "tweets" in evil ways: to influence the gullible to support him both politically and financially, rather than working to effect the greater good for the many.

Of course, this process works best with people who are generally in agreement with your intent -- or with those who are inherently gullible, and easily "moved by the wind" (which appears to be a surprisingly large proportion of our population, as evidenced by recent political events, and the success-rate of scams and scam-advertisin g).

"Interesting stuff!"
 
 
+4 # mill valley maven 2018-12-18 11:29
You really think Trump "...includes silly typos because he WANTS people to talk about his tweet."
He's not that clever. He just can't spell....or read....or think.
 
 
+5 # ddd-rrr 2018-12-19 15:26
Yes, Trump is a rather stupid and sociopathic jerk, but he is also a very clever, able,
and "studied" con-man -- one who very often uses diversions such as the vocal
and written "slips", which too often succeed in attracting the attention
of news people, occupying reporting time and distracting us
all from observing and assessing what this evil
"trumpster" is REALLY doing!
 
 
+30 # Porfiry 2018-12-18 12:47
How's this for a truth sandwich. "The TRUTH is . . . ." Always. The truth is illegal immigration is at a very significant low with more immigrants returning to their countries of origin than new ones coming in. The truth is that both legal and illegal immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born Americans. The truth is that barriers don't work: People fly over or go around them. The "Wall" is thus an expensive, false farce. The truth is that immigration is more than under control: It's obsessively under attack.
 
 
+13 # tr4302@gmail.com 2018-12-18 12:53
This article caused me to reflect on how we selecor elect our president. The SCOTUS did aid and abet with George W. Bush There is some speculation regarding this as to whether Al Gore was providing a global warning to the effect that Bush was the "inconvient truth" and not global warming!
Whatever I guess. So now we are dealing with another inconvient truth, ie an unstablemaligna nt narcissist as our current president. May the gods help us.
 
 
+7 # Anne Frank 2018-12-18 13:14
The threat to free journalism in the United States is not the government, but the corporate monopolies that own the media and censor or distort reporting to suit their plutocratic agenda. Phil Donahue and Mark Lamont Hill are examples, among hundreds of others.
 
 
+7 # RussellB 2018-12-18 14:08
Of course the underlying assumption here is that the first priority of the media is to tell the truth. It's not and everyone knows it. The media are big businesses and their first priority is to make a profit. That's the thinking that goes into all their decisions about headlines and everything else etc. Ethics are and always will be a secondary concern.
 
 
+6 # dawill4 2018-12-18 15:44
It would also help if they cable stopped using the same pundits who are just sucking up air time repeating each other's speculations and twisting opinion to fit their narrow insider or wanna be insider echo chamber. The media fails constantly. I call it lazy journalism.
 
 
+9 # jellyroll 2018-12-18 21:29
End the cult of personality. The story became Chelsea Manning instead of the horrific war crimes she exposed. The same goes for Ed Snowden. Who is responsible for the hack of Democratic Party emails is less important than the content that demonstrated how undemocratic the party is.

Follow the Money. An old trope that is still true. The Nation article about the DOD not being able to account for $21 Trillion is all but ignored. The money behind politician's opinions should ALWAYS be mentioned.

End the Vietnam Syndrome. Demagogues hide behind patriotism (and religion). The military frames how it should be covered, based on blaming the media for Vietnam. They are afraid to cover the military for fear of appearing unpatriotic. The media is also afraid to confront religious hypocrisy. I understand a reporter would be queasy, asking if it follows Jesus teachings for a Baptist organization to run the children's interment camp in Tornillo, but it's an appropriate and necessary question.
 
 
+4 # pushingforpeace 2018-12-19 19:57
["jellyroll"]En d the cult of personality. The story became Chelsea Manning instead of the horrific war crimes she exposed. The same goes for Ed Snowden. Who is responsible for the hack of Democratic Party emails is less important than the content that demonstrated how undemocratic the party is.

Yes! Time for the Media to evolve! When we want entertainment, it's easy to find. We want facts, not soap operas.
 
 
+6 # economagic 2018-12-18 21:59
Several posters are saying this in various ways, but the fundamental problem with The Media(which is, by the way, a PLURAL noun) is that as wholly-owned subsidiaries of Global Megacorp (Kurt Vonnegut's RAMJAC Corporation) their lodestar is not truth but corporate profit.
 
 
+4 # diamondmarge7 2018-12-20 20:13
One can but hope that the brilliant Dr.Lakoff also got this published in TNYT and/or Boston Globe, WaPo, The
Guardian, The New Yorker, etc. where larger audiences will see it. Barring that, IMO so many of the insightful commenters here must/need to find a way to insert comments on TNYT, ETC...
 
 
+1 # Buddha 2018-12-21 08:09
But the corporate MSM is owned by and serves the interests of the Capital Class that owns it, and the Capital Class knows that pushing their lies WORKS in getting voters to vote against their self-interest.
 

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