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View Diary: Interview Skills 101--Surviving the Fox Hunt (261 comments)

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  •  Good Diary... (4.00)
    unfortunately it makes me incredibly depressed.  It basically concedes that the United States is a dumb country full of dumb people who will never have the mental power to make the right decision unless they are talk down to.  This is why education is my number one issue.  If people took pride in intellect  we could progress to reasoned discussion.

    Here's to a more thoughtful dialog and a time where such tactics will no long be necessary.

    •  Simple folk (4.00)
      Americans aren't dumb people. They're simple, decent folk who want simple, decent answers to their problems. Only a liberal would say they're dumb.

      (See how they do it?)

      •  I disagree (4.00)
        People aren't stupid. They aren't simple either. While the ability to follow complex arguments varies, plenty of folks can and do do it all the time. Those people in turn tend to influence their peers. So serious argumentation still matters a lot. The problem is that the medium of commercial television is fundamentally hostile to that kind of presentation of ideas and therefore creates an environment in which this sort of dumbed-down discourse is the only way to "get your message out." Tips on how to conduct yourself when interviewed by Fox are fine (not that they are going to be much use to 99% of us who will never be in such a situation). Far more important is building up our own independent media capacity in which we can define not just the terms of debate but raise the standards of discourse.  

        "Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories." -- Amilcar Cabral

        by Christopher Day on Tue May 10, 2005 at 05:36:34 AM PDT

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        •  Not dumb (none)
          I don't think people are dumb. Rather, I think they are ill-informed, and because of Republicans, often misinformed.

          My post was just to draw attention to the way Republicans create short sound-bite arguments that work well on TV.

        •  Were It So (none)
          People aren't stupid. They aren't simple either. While the ability to follow complex arguments varies, plenty of folks can and do do it all the time. Those people in turn tend to influence their peers. So serious argumentation still matters a lot.

          In the words of Professor Terguson (as portrayed by the late Sam Kinison), "IS IT TRUE?"

          Sadly, if it were:

          • There'd be half a million registered Kossacks. Instead, there's only a tenth of that number.
          • Kerry would have won in a landslide (despite his shortcomings).
          • Dubya wouldn't have beaten Ann Richards.

          It breaks my heart. I believe in the power of intellect. But I also know what I've seen, and I've heard what I've heard. The general public does not read at a 12th grade level, and most folks make themselves far too busy in other parts of their lives to spend multiple hours in a week researching how they themselves should vote.

          I used to be an idealist ...

      •  Yes, and it's scary (none)
        How do people in the reality-based community play that game?
    •  simultaneous translation (4.00)
      I mean this gently, but there is a certain arrogance in defining this approach as "talking down."  Kind of reinforces the idea that we think we are "up".

      I made this point last month about the reason people watch Fox for their news.  It is a place where they won't hear literary references to books they haven't read or authors they've never heard of or plays they've never seen or movies with subtitles.  It is a place where they won't hear vocabulary words they have to look up.  It is a place that assumes their level of understanding is the norm (which it is) and worth representing.  

      One day Mrs. Brit Hume (forgot her name but she won't mind being called that) was on C-Span and actually said something to this effect (I'm paraphrasing because I can't find the quote):  people watch Fox because they are so grateful to have a news channel that doesn't make them feel stupid.

      The other side has spent decades devaluing what you call "pride in intellect."  that's an even harder battle to win.  Let's just use the words and images they understand in order to tell them the truth.    Why insist that they learn our language first?  One of the advantages of being the smart ones is that it is much more likely we will learn their language than they will lean ours, at least in the beginning.

      We are simply speaking their language.  Let's try to keep it judgment-neutral.  If you speak Spanish to Spanish-speaking people or French to French speaking people are you talking down to them or simply translating?

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:54:27 PM PDT

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      •  Agree (none)
        This subject is far from being a dumb versus smart issue.  It is both a simplicity of message, and the acknowledgment that if you don't spit out your thought in under 10 seconds you are cut off.  This isn't the viewer's doing, this is the current state of media.  I am an editor in TV.  Any place in this medium that you see a shot, or hear a sound bite for longer than 10 seconds you are about to get the channel changed and lose a viewer.  Hosts are not necessarily your enemy, they are just following the rules, and if you get cut off you just haven't read the rulebook.

        But now you have, so talk simple, write long-winded.  I do.

      •  Translation=Communication=Changed Thinking (none)
        As far as personal conversations go, only a fool intimidates a possible convert to our view. And any intellectual who comes across as a know-it-all does just that in this neck of the prairie.

        Most Republicans here are Rs 'cause dad and granddad were Rs. And due to the lack of any real news via the MSM to the contrary, they believe that Rs at the national level are still the same Rs they've always known, for decades in some instances.

        In a so called, Red State, our two Sens and one Rep are all democrats. And one of the main reasons they keep getting re-elected is their ability to communicate in a way that matches the culture... that, for example, recalls humorous sayings everyone is familiar with, and applies them to the topic at hand.

        Since they're all original to the state these guys know the local "language", and they apply that knowledge to persuasive discussion.

        None of the above discounts the absolute necessity of reading "Don't Think of an Elephant"
        as those without an understanding of the concepts will not be as effective as activists.


        If they weren't on to me I'd be worried. To not be part of their dossier is to not leave a record, to not be part of the passion of our time- LewLubka

        by NorthDakotaDemocrat on Tue May 10, 2005 at 12:37:37 AM PDT

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    •  very interesting (but short) discussion (none)
      pertaining to your comment, Katulus (and excellent diary, TBM!)

      When I first read the diary, my first instinct was similar--it's depressing that we have to change our methods to a dumbed-down America.  

      But that IS arrogant--(although I do feel this way).  Not all of America has the time, or the background, or the interest to be intellectuals.  Most don't.  Most fit into a simple-minded category because intellectualism, or even clear comprehension, is not where their interests lie.  It would be nice to see that change, but that's another topic.

      What IS important is that thinkers CAN influence policy--but that's where the delivery mechanism is important--it does require translation.  Just because our presentation seems dumbed down doesn't mean the logic behind it hasn't been deeply thought out.  And once people are won over to our side, partially thorugh this delivery mechanism, then perhaps some of them will be interested enough to enlighten themselves even more.

    •  People ARE dumb (4.00)
      It's not unique to Americans or TV watchers or anything else.

      We're dumb. As a species we're dumb. We're driven by our emotions -- and we'll go to great lengths to "logically" justify things that we did for emotional reasons. We're easily confused. We're tricked by con men and optical illusions and perceived risk and our poor memories.

      We're also smart. The human race is full of smart people -- people who can explain quantum mechanics but not balance a checkbook. People who are brilliant artists and so dysfunctionally insane they couldn't feed themselves without assistance. People who love and care deeply for everyone around them, who still support the hate-filled agenda of the theocrats.

      Sure, we liberal idealists are always trying to get people to be better -- more thoughtful, more informed, more compassionate -- but we don't get there by ignoring human realities.

      I have a dream.

      •  Wow, McJulie. (none)
      •  Exactly! (none)
        One cannot be knowledgeable and capable in every subject area. I am very well educated.  I have read extensively and spent a great deal of time studying human behavior, history, politics, current events, language, literature, and communications,  but when it comes to physics, carpentry, or auto mechanics, I am a complete moron.  

        We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

        by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:38:38 PM PDT

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        •  but even then... (none)
          I am only semi literate in political science when compared to many of this blog. Compared to a historian, I know nothing.  I am quite impressed with many diaries and comments here. But then I am equally impressed when my mechanic describes what is wrong with my car, when the contractor tells me how easy it is for him to build a house completely to specifications and attention to detail in just a short time. I stand in awe of peoples' talents like an artist because I cannot draw a straight line, a composer because I cannot begin to put notes on paper that work together, a nurse because I cannot imagine their level of responsibility, a man or woman stationed in Iraq and what their day to day life is like or to be a Aid worker in an impoverished and dangerous area of the world. Yet they know so much and have the confidence to perform their jobs each day even in the worst of circumstances. I am a moron when it comes to technical and scientific endeavors as well. Medical knowledge is something I am learning on my own to deal with diseases faced by friends and family but anything even remotely related to chemistry or calculus causes my brain to sweat. LOL! I suppose some Red voters would find me incredibly dumb to them because everyone they know  can fix their own cars and wire their houses and fix their own plumbing and do their own taxes.
          So I cannot judge as in some worlds, I am dumb according to the definitions that person may hold.

          It does not make any of them dumb because they are NOT  analyzing and studying the political issue as we are. Some have no interest which boggles my mind while others simply do not have the time.  I have to keep reminding myself of that each and everyday so I do not become a snob wondering why are they are so dumb.....because, in reality, they are not dumb, simply misinformed.

          We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

          by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:54:54 PM PDT

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      •  Above all (none)
        You can never have enough communication skills.

        As a translator, I once pointed out to some co-workers (who said I wasn't need someplace because they had someone who spoke English):

        "Just because they speak a language doesn't mean they can communicate."

        I know plenty of Americans who speak fluent English and can't communicate to save their lives.  They're called Democrats.

        My taxes support the troops, not a yellow sticker.

        by Dragonchild on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:55:50 AM PDT

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    •  It's not about talking down (none)
      It basically concedes that the United States is a dumb country full of dumb people who will never have the mental power to make the right decision unless they are talk down to.

      It's about being clear, having passion, and showing the courage of your convictions.  It's also about being smart about the media on which you're choosing to appear.  

      I'm no genius, but I went to an Ivy League college and grad school, and I write for a living.  But half the time I don't know what the hell the Democrat is trying to communicate on these shows, Fox or otherwise.   It really pisses me off to see someone in my party go up there like a lamb to a slaughter because he was too arrogant, or lazy, or snobbish to realize that he has some goddamned work to do if he's going to communicate points effectively (ESPECIALLY if the deck is stacked), and that it's going to take some preparation, discipline, and -- most importantly -- a genuine desire to get the truth out to the audience, past the interference.

      So it's just the opposite of "talking down."  It's respecting the American audience enough to want to communicate clearly with them, and INCLUDE them, not simply have a rambling chat with other insode-the-Beltway types.  Because the Repubs aren't playing that game, even when they appear to be.  

      It's long past time that every Democrat who put him/herself in front of a microphone or camera knew how the hell to use it.  Thinking that's beneath you, as too many Dems seem to, means you get creamed time and time again.  It's a disgrace.

      So if any Democratic politicians are out there, reading:  for god's sake, print out this excellent diary and start studying.  Then start drilling.  There's no more excuse for not being prepared for battle.  

    •  Democracy without educated people (none)
      cannot work. Simple as that.

      Why don't we ever talk about education on DKos? We should be pushing reform 24/7. More resources, and more critical thinking - less standardized tests, less rote learning.
      If Joe Sixpack doesn't want his children to be enlightened then at least we can make sure that our own children gets a real education.

      No more NCLB, fuck that shit. No more teaching-the-test. No more corporate sponsored lessons on American history.  

      Hillary. Wrong on the issues. Wrong elitist image. Wrong for Democrats. Brian Schweitzer 2008

      by Joe B on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:19:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not dumb (none)
      This is getting a little condescending to talk of Democrats as intellectuals and the other guys as dumb people who can not follow an argument.

      It's not a matter of smart vs. dumb, just what most concerns people and how busy they are with their day to day lives.  Acting like we are the only smart ones just gets us in trouble because the people from the other side that we are trying to convince will pick up on the "we're superior" vibe and turn off.

      The fact is that many people (both liberals and conservatives) do not live and breathe politics and national/international affairs, unlike we Kosacs, and don't give politicians much attention until they have to near the election.  

      So you need to do Marketing 101:
       - messages need to be extremely clear to cut through the clutter, (so short is best)
       - emotional messages are more powerful than rational ones,
       - repeating your message is important to be remembered.

      This doesn't mean lying, but it does mean staying on message and not trying to explain.

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