eNewsChannels COLUMN: Politics is sometimes the art of perception. If you can define the way people discuss a topic, you are a few steps closer to influencing how they vote on it. All political parties attempt to do this, of course, but some teams are better at it than others. A man named Frank Luntz may be the best practitioner of this technique. He is often charitably referred to as a pollster or a campaign strategist, but that doesn’t really capture the essence of his existence.
Right on the Money
Frank Luntz continually strives to help powerful corporations and the rich obtain more wealth, often at the expense of a majority of U.S. citizens and certainly to the detriment of America as a whole. His method: reframe the debate by altering the terminology. Take a look at some specimens of his handiwork…
Exhibit 1: To help insurance companies in their ongoing crusade to plunder the bank accounts of a majority of the American people, Luntz had the GOP stop arguing against the necessary reform of healthcare and instead pontificate about “government takeover of healthcare.” The progressive plan is no such thing, of course, but the Lunzt language confuses a great many people. The irony is that many who are fooled are the very people who would be better off if America adopted some aspects of healthcare/insurance programs already proven successful in other democracies.
Exhibit 2: Siding with Wall Street, corporate raiders, vulture capitalists, and predatory bankers are other pet projects of Luntz. To help them evade retribution for the financial rape of American home buyers — as well as those who believed in saving money via their now-depleted pension plans — Luntz has the GOP apologists say that people are all just envious of anyone with wealth.
Exhibit 3: In an attempt to kill the inheritance tax on estates worth millions and millions of dollars, Luntz has altered the media discussion by having members of the GOP call it the “death tax.” This term helps fool many people into fearing that the tax might apply to them. This despite the fact that the inheritance tax only affects estates that are worth more than regular people could accumulate in multiple lifetimes.
Spreading the Bad Word
Have you ever noticed how the forces of the wealthy and powerful frequently all use the same phrases in their fight against progressive ideas? At “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” videotape editors will often assemble a montage of a clutch of right-wingers all using Lunzt language within the same twenty-four-hour news cycle. It’s humorous, in a sad sort of way. “Obamacare,” says a GOP senator. “Obamacare,” says a GOP congressman. “Obamacare,” says a member of a conservative-funded phony think tank. And so on. The right-wing media falls in line for this ploy again and again.
Wait, right-wing media? Correct. One of the language scams pulled off by the Greed-On-Parade party is the term left-wing media or left-wing media bias. There is no such thing. Besides a few independent magazines (such as The Nation and Mother Jones), some brilliant but isolated newsletters (such as The Hightower Lowdown), and a couple of comedy programs (“Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”), all but two major media outlets are owned by conservative corporations.
Other than MSNBC and the still-fledgling Current cable channel, the major TV networks, newspaper syndicates, major radio networks, and mainstream magazines all have conservative owners. Some of the writers, reporters, and editors may be progressive, but the corporate entities issuing their paychecks are conservative, sometimes staunchly so (can you say Rupert Murdoch?)
Attack from Your Weakness
In the war of words, the GOP often describes their own faults and them aims them at progressives. In this way, when the terms are accurately pointed at the oligarchy, the effect is blunted because it now feels a bit like the schoolyard “I know you are, but what am I?”
Consider this quote from Newt Gingrich: “They are so consumed by their own power, by a Mussolini-like ego, that their willingness to run over normal human beings and to destroy honest institutions is unending.” Obviously this describes members of the GOP, yet he directed it at the democratic party. Naturally, the right-wing media made little note of this.
In 1990, the Gingrich political action committee called GOPAC issued a memo entitled “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” with a list of words that describe republicans. The list included words like “decay, sick, shallow, traitors, threaten, devour, corruption, incompetent, destructive, greed, intolerant, stagnation, selfish, insensitive, spending, shame, disgrace, bizarre, cheat, steal, bosses, abuse of power.” But here’s the twist: they suggested that these words should be used by the GOP to describe democrats. Talk about attacking from a position of your own weakness! Typically, the right-wing media doesn’t call them out on this subterfuge.
Gingrich and Luntz are part of an interesting unholy alliance. While only unofficially attached, they march in lock-step with numerous powerful figures, some publically recognized, some quite shadowy.
Roger Ailes is perhaps the most important of these. Ailes is president of the misleadingly-named Fox News Channel, and chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group. Ailes presides over a massive propaganda dissemination organization available to 90 million homes, not to mention bars, hotels, restaurants, and other retail locations. Fox is a distasteful part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which also spews bile through its newspapers, including the formerly somewhat objective Wall Street Journal. By constantly pumping out distortions, prevarications, and outright lies, the so-called news of News Corporation ramps up fear while suppressing facts.
While every employee of Fox shares in the ongoing deception, many other figures are also part of the anti-truth brigade. Obviously the biggest one would be Rush Limbaugh (yeah, pun intended) but there are oodles of others:
Karl Rove; former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush; Fox News Contributor; Wall Street Journal columnist.
Carl Forti: director of four groups that have already spent thirty-three million dollars on sharp-edged television advertising boosting Republicans and/or attacking Democrats personally. He has been called “the Alexander the Great of the Republican independent expenditure world.”
George Will; consistently inaccurate and supremely condescending panelist on Sunday morning TV programs.
Laura Ingraham; bloviating radio host who formerly worked for Ronald Reagan and Clarence Thomas.
Matt Drudge; semi-literate web content supplier.
Peggy Noonan; official apologist for all things Bush and Reagan.
Michael Savage; not to be confused with the erudite and populist Dan Savage, Michael Savage is one of seemingly hundreds of radio fear-mongers. One of his claims to fame is having been barred from entering the United Kingdom for “seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred.”
Pat Buchanan; described by the Anti-Defamation League as an “unrepentant bigot” who “repeatedly demonizes Jews and minorities and openly affiliates with white supremacists.”
Philip Anschutz; owner of the Examiner newspaper syndicate.
Charles Krauthammer; syndicated columnist.
Stephen Moore; Wall Street Journal editorial board member.
Ramesh Ponnuru; senior editor for The National Review.
Brothers in Lawless
Charles and David Koch are also part of that list. The Koch brothers (it’s pronounced “coke”) are billionaires who fund many fake research organizations and rabble-rousing groups that help obscure the issues, including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Tea Party.
When you look up Koch Industries, you find such lovely news items as: “Trading with Iran,” “Bribing foreign officials,” “Deadly butane explosion,” “Falsifying benzene emissions,” “Fighting greenhouse gas regulations,” “Denying climate change,” “Fighting Wall Street reform,” and “Stealing oil on Indian reservations.”
Adding injury to other insults and injuries, Koch Industries was named one of the United States’ top 10 air polluters in a 2010 study released by the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts.
A Kansas-based company, Koch Industries is the second largest privately held company in America. Charles and David Koch are worth a combined $43 billion. Every time you purchase products from their Georgia-Pacific company, including Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, Sparkle, Vanity Fair, and Dixie paper goods, you help them afford to spread more lies and cause more pain.
Some people reviewing this text have asked why I’m not mentioning other disreputable characters such as O’Reilly, Hannity, and Coulter. Well, because: Bill “Sexual Harrassment” O’Reilly and Sean “I Get My Data from the Teleprompter” Hannity are employees of Fox, which has been covered, while Coulter is just an unfunny comic.
Others have asked why the religiosity freaks like Pat Robertson are not mentioned. Excellent point. Every Sunday, and often during the week, thousands of these make-a-buck-from-the-bible folks help spread the manure of the right-wing. Among them are Jim Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church and chairman of a Newt Gingrich operation called Renewing American Leadership; Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and former chairman of the odious Christian Coalition; Richard Lee, senior pastor of First Redeemer Church; Dave Stone, senior minister at Southeast Christian Church; Robert George, founder of the conservative American Principles Project and, for some reason, a professor at Princeton; Tom Mullins, senior pastor and founder of Christ Fellowship Church; John Hagee, founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church; Stephan Broden, senior pastor at Fairpark Bible Fellowship; and David Barton, founder and president of a so-called pro-family organization, Wallbuilders. As you can imagine, all are a menace and quite repulsive.
Open Mouth, Insert Foot
When GOP candidates provide unintended hilarity as they attempt to spread the right-wing lies, the media refuses to call them out on it. For example:
Mitt Romney said that business does not harm people by looking toward short-term profits but instead focuses on the long-term. Yes, he actually made such a statement. It is just possible that even the most slow-witted Republican voter can see through that whopper. But the news shows paid scant attention to the statement.
Rick Santorum attacked Romney for being “just a paler shade of what we have” in the White House. It was mentioned on news shows, but without much follow-up about how this reveals the racial bias of this candidate.
Ron Paul says Social Security is unconstitutional. Jon Huntsman admitted to being “radical” for wanting to end Medicare as we know it. Rick Perry (owner of the “Niggerhead” ranch) tops the Paul and Huntsman oddities by saying Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and federal education policies are all unconstitutional. But do these dangerous views get much coverage? Not that I’ve seen.
The disconnect between GOP posturing and media scrutiny is sometimes bizarre. Huntsman, who spent most of his campaign pointing out Romney deficiencies and labeling him unelectable, exited the race and endorsed . . . Romney. It has gotten only a blip in the media. As I’m writing this, a TV spot just ran announcing that the next GOP debate is being sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute. Again, not a peep from the press.
Ignoring Change and Hope
Something else not well-covered by the media: The White House recently said that U.S. corporations must pay their share in taxes, and that the U.S. tax code should not encourage companies to hire workers in Mexico, India, eastern Europe and elsewhere rather than in struggling American cities.
The White House also proposed the following: increasing the amount of foreign income subject to U.S. tax law; requiring companies to treat some foreign subsidiaries as corporations for U.S. tax purposes; and a set of disclosure rules to discourage wealthy individuals and companies from hiding wealth in off-shore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands.
And where did I read about all this? In a detailed article in the online version of the The Guardian, a U.K. publication. The U.S. right-wing media simply mentioned it and moved on to other topics.
Yes, there are a few lonely voices echoing amidst the right-wing cacophony. For example, this from Michael Kindt, writing on Cagle(dot)com: “Perhaps someday Americans will realize that liberty has a broader definition. We should be free to live our lives without interference from government so long as we don’t hurt other people, but we should also be free FROM things, too, like poisoned air or water resulting from completely unregulated industry.” This should be a topic for every GOP debate, but the questioners are mostly shirking their responsibilities. These people are, after all, employees of right-wing organizations.
What They Say/What They Mean
Because so much of our national news and commentary comes from the perspective of autocracy, communication gets warped. When the news is perverted in this manner, there is no examination of statements, no follow-up on meaning. Since the media is foregoing their responsibility, the rest of us must pick up the slack. Here are some of my efforts:
They say: “President Obama wants to ‘fundamentally transform’ America.” They mean: “The GOP likes things the way they are: a wealthy corporatized elite holding the majority of the nation at arm’s length.”
They say: “We want to restore America to the founding principles that made this country great.” They mean: “We like the fact that the founding fathers were rich, white, slave-owning men of property.”
They say: “Obama wants to turn America into a European-style entitlement society.” They mean: “Don’t be cutting into the fabulous profits enjoyed by our corporate pals in banking, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, petroleum, etc.”
They say: “Lower taxes on job creators.” They mean: “Give more to the rich while raising taxes and reducing infrastructure for a majority of citizens.”
They say: “Get rid of regulations that prevent growth.” They mean: “We don’t need to worry about unclean water, tainted food, or uninspected prescription drugs.”
They say: “Government must stop taking money from hardworking Americans.” They mean: “Government must stop taking money from rich Americans.”
Thanks to Frank Luntz, Roger Ailes, Karl Rove, Carl Forti, the Koch Brothers, GOP candidates, and the entire conservative cabal of contributors, combatants, and commentators, the following points will remain relevant:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. — Joseph Goebbels
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. — Benito Mussolini
Article is Copr. © 2012 by John Scott G, and originally published on eNewsChannels.com – all commercial rights reserved.