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Going back to the days of Ronald Reagan, the Republicans have had a distinct advantage when it comes to messaging.

I believe there are a few prime reasons for this.

First of all, I operate under the premise that the news media is supposed to be an impartial reporter of fact. I do not believe that the media has to give equal time to both sides, especially if one side of an issue is completely insane. I believe that the primary role of the news media in any fair country is not to report both sides of an issue, but rather to report the facts as they exist.

Obviously, this isn't happening. The GOP has adopted a masterful strategy of "working the refs", repeating the "liberal media" lie over and over to the point where now some people actually believe it. So now what exists as the "mainstream" media really exists to serve center-right corporatist ends.

But for some, it's not enough. It's not enough that the media reports simply what's going on. Now, the media must craft a narrative to tell people how they should feel about it.

Those with a critical mind can see through the bullshit. Those who can't watch Fox News.

And this, in a small way, is a very good example of the importance of messaging. History has shown repeatedly that the Big Lie works. The more brazen the lie, the better and eventually, the more believable.

None of this would be possible if we had an objective media in this country. But once the right wing made it priority one to discredit the media by any means possible, it became easy to dismiss objective reporting on the problematic Republican policies as inherently biased.

This became the first big step to what we have today. Not just inside politics, but outside as well. The recent "vaccines cause autism" scare is a perfect example. Despite the report that the assertion that the MMR vaccine caused autism was "based not on bad science but on a deliberate fraud", roughly one in five Americans still believe that vaccines and autism are linked.

Today, we've got a vocal section of our population who base their economic worldview on Art Laffer's cocktail napkin doodle and their political worldview on Ayn Rand's book which can best be described as "sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don't get enough hugs."

Perhaps one of the greatest quotes about Atlas Shrugged, from the above linked post:

All of this is fine, if one recognizes that the idealized world Ayn Rand has created to facilitate her wishful theorizing has no more logical connection to our real one than a world in which an author has imagined humanity ruled by intelligent cups of yogurt. This is most obviously revealed by the fact that in Ayn Rand's world, a man who self-righteously instigates the collapse of society, thereby inevitably killing millions if not billions of people, is portrayed as a messiah figure rather than as a genocidal prick, which is what he'd be anywhere else. Yes, he's a genocidal prick with excellent engineering skills. Good for him. He's still a genocidal prick.

The far-right's continued reliance on Laffer's cocktail napkin rather than the empirical evidence of the last 30 years of supply-side failure can be explained by the fact that the Republicans have stayed on message. Just ask anyone - even our Democratic president whether or not tax cuts create jobs. Most people, including President Obama, will say they do. Of course, it's utter bullshit, but hey, it's been repeated so much that the meme has become part of our national consciousness.

Add to this the new right's adoption of Atlas Shrugged as a sort of conservative manifesto, and we're left with a frightening situation. We have a Republican Party that bases its entire worldview on ideas that are only slightly more ridiculous than basing one's religious worldview on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard.

The Republicans have long held the advantage in the messaging war. Today we're seeing how dangerous letting that advantage stand has become. Progressives and Democrats must strike back with a unified, disciplined message that for once puts the right on the defensive.

Otherwise, the nation we all love may move as much to the right over the next 30 years as it has over the last 30.

Originally posted to Great Lakes Liberal on Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 08:38 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  First of All, Your Premise Is False (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Great Lakes Liberal

    the premise that the news media is supposed to be an impartial reporter of fact

    --Unless by "supposed" you mean "was imagined." Nothing personal, we have a whole nation that has trouble with this.

    The Constitutional text says:

    Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

    So, government can't forbid the press from doing pretty much anything.

    What could there be about a corporation that proclaims itself to be "press" that would naturally make it "an impartial reporter of fact" ? I don't see anything.

    What I see are giant corporations, sponsored by giant corporations, Constitutionally freed by 2 rights to promote their interests and agenda even if those are against the nation and the people and the entire planet.

    And what I see is reasonably close to what the media do.

    It isn't the rightwing that makes the media anti-objective. It's the 1st Amendment and the economy that do it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 09:21:53 PM PST

    •  But, it's up to individual reporters (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Great Lakes Liberal

      to actually, you know, report. Give us the who, what, when, where, why regardless of where their corporate employer leans politically. Granted, that has never existed in the real world, but there's likely never been a time in our history where "The Press" has been lazier and/or outright negligent and/or blatantly partisan as it is today. And, it flat out kills this country.

    •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

      The "Was Imagined" statement is probably more accurate.

      I wasn't suggesting at all that our government shold forbid the press from doing anything, and your overall assessment of the media is spot on.

      My point (rambling as it was, serves me right for blogging while tired) was simply that the Republicans have been so effective with their message that it's conditioned the masses to demand their opium in the form of a media that panders to the lowest common denominator. And the media doesn't dare call out the GOP (with any force) on clearly false items such as "tax cuts create jobs" and "global warming is false" because it would piss off the viewers and ultimately hurt ratings and revenue.

      Because you can't expect the media to be that objective reporter, you have to craft a message that is soundbite-friendly, easy to repeat over and over, and something that can be used as a sledgehammer against the right wing. It's really the only way to fight back.

  •  Hard to make a cohesive message (0+ / 0-)

    from an uncohesive body.  Dems have to decide what they are "for" each election cycle before they can put messaging behind it.  There are so many different issues and coalitions that this is no easy task.

    I.e., its much easier to say "don't tax us" and stick to it.

    The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led. -- Edgar Allan Poe

    by Sarea on Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 09:29:52 PM PST

    •  True, but... (0+ / 0-)

      The cohesive message doesn't have to actually MEAN anything. I've seen politicians talk for hours on end without actually saying anything.

      And in the end, it's the effectiveness of message that really pulls the right wing through. We know what they stand for - tax cuts for the rich, bailouts for billionaires and austerity for the middle class - but we'll never hear them say it. Instead, the right has now claimed ownership of the Constitution and long ago claimed ownership of family values. We all know it's bull to think that the GOP actually gives a hoot in hell about the Constitution (I seem to remember our last Republican president referring to it in a very negative fashion) and the "family values" nonsense is just another crap sandwich from the right.

      Rather than focus on issues that matter, the GOP has long beat the three-headed monster of God, Gays, and Guns to use as a wedge issue to rally the ignorant into voting for them (and against their own self-interest). Now they've added "Socialism" and "Elitism" as their latest weapon in the War on Intelligence.

      It's amazing that we can't come up with SOMETHING to counter this. Perhaps it's because the Democrats haven't figured out the whole "lowest common denominator" thing?

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