From ‘spygate’ to ‘fake news’, Trump spins language to frame – and win – debates. And the press meekly acts as his marketing agency.
By George Lakoff & Gil Duran
The Guardian (6/13/18)
Donald Trump has been a salesman for nearly half a century. He is now selling himself, his worldview and his self-serving views of the law and the truth. His principal tools are language and the media. By faithfully transmitting Trump’s words and ideas, the press helps him to attack, and thereby control, the press itself.
Trump knows the press has a strong instinct to repeat his most outrageous claims, and this allows him put the press to work as a marketing agency for his ideas. His lies reach millions of people through constant repetition in the press and social media. This poses an existential threat to democracy.
The press has become complicit with Trump by allowing itself to be used as an amplifier for his falsehoods and frames. When the press gives Trump absolute power to dictate coverage, it abdicates its role as a pillar of democracy.
Language works by activating brain structures called “frame-circuits” used to understand experience. They get stronger when we hear the activating language. Enough repetition can make them permanent, changing how we view the world.
Even negating a frame-circuit activates and strengthens it, as when Nixon said “I am not a crook” and people thought of him as a crook.
Scientists, marketers, advertisers and salespeople understand these principles. So do Russian and Islamic State hackers. But most reporters and editors clearly don’t. So the press is at a disadvantage when dealing with a super salesman with an instinctive ability to manipulate thought by 1) framing first 2) repeating often, and 3) leading others to repeat his words by getting people to attack him within his own frame.
Language can shape the way we think. Trump knows this. Here are some of his favorite manipulation techniques.
First, he weaponizes words. The modifier “crooked” convicted Hillary Clinton without a trial. The media’s constant repetition sealed the verdict. “Fake news” proclaims that the news is fake. The use of “fake” is designed to delegitimize the press itself. Trump also uses strategic name-calling to undermine the Russia investigation, tagging it as a “witch-hunt” by the “deep state” in an attempt to shift blame. It’s false, but when the press repeats it, his narrative wins.
The media perpetuated a Trump lie by repeating “spygate”, which falsely characterized the FBI informant as a spy. Once made, such a mistake by the press is hard to correct. …
Lakoff Has 4 Basic Suggestions For Regaining The Political Language…
First, journalists must understand how propaganda works on the brain…
Second, keep a steely focus on the fact that American democracy is under attack by a foreign power …
Third, stop letting Trump control the news cycle. …
Fourth, don’t spread lies. Don’t privilege Trump’s lies by putting their specific language in the headlines, the leads or the hashtags. …
WATCH YOUR MOUTH! You May Hate Him, But Here Is How You Help Trump Every Day
By George Lakoff
George Lakoff Blog (12/16/18)
Without knowing it, many Democrats, progressives and members of the news media help Donald Trump every day. The way they help him is simple: they spread his message.
Think about it: every time Trump issues a mean tweet or utters a shocking statement, millions of people begin to obsess over his words. Reporters make it the top headline. Cable TV panels talk about it for hours. Horrified Democrats and progressives share the stories online, making sure to repeat the nastiest statements in order to refute them. While this response is understandable, it works in favor of Trump.
When you repeat Trump, you help Trump. You do this by spreading his message wide and far.
Nobody knows this better than Trump. Trump, as a media master, knows how to frame a debate. When he picks a fight, he does so deliberately. He tweets or says outrageous things, knowing they will be repeated millions and millions of times. When the news media and Democrats repeat Trump’s frames, they are strengthening those frames by ensuring that tens of millions of Americans hear them repeated over and over again. …
Check out the Commoner Call “Your Brain On Politics” Archive Of Stories On Effective Use Of Language In Politics, HERE.