For a long time now, one thought has gnawed at me regarding media coverage of the present administration. George Lakoff, Professor of Cognitive Science, helped me a great deal with an article he wrote.
“When you repeat Trump, you help Trump”, he writes. That is why Trump has chosen tweets to reach the masses. Every time he tweets something, no matter how outrageous, we obsess over those words. Through them, he controls the cable news panels, the newspapers, and all of us. We do exactly what he intends: We spread his message of divide and conquer.
What Dr.Lakoff said bears repeating. “When you repeat Trump, you help Trump. You do this by spreading his message far and wide.”
We must learn, and quickly, the most important principle of framing debate. When arguing against the other side, do not use their language because it evokes their frame and not the frame you want to establish. Do not repeat his charges. Instead, use your own words and values to reframe the conversation.
I have long felt that the press conferences held by Trump’s mouthpiece are a total waste of time and effort because questions are never answered but circumvented. Only recently, when Reporter Brian Karem of Playboy magazine finally confronted Sanders, asking if she had any “empathy” towards the children being forcibly separated from their parents at the border, was there at least an attempt to reframe the debate.
We all know how that worked out for Mr. Karem.
In my heart of hearts, as angry as I am with our Congress’ complicity, I know that I need to step back, take a deep breath, and follow the advice of a former first lady: “Take the high road”.
I also need to recall the folk adage: “Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get filthy and the pig likes it.”
The United States of America is at a definitive turning point. Each of us needs to examine our lives and decide what is really most important.
Fall Creek, Wisconsin