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Rove/Repub Methods: A Descriptive List. Which if any should WE use?

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Mayberry Machiavelli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-20-05 05:04 PM
Original message
Rove/Repub Methods: A Descriptive List. Which if any should WE use?
The Right Wing in America has been much more successful than its opposition in the last several years in message management and the use of various propaganda techniques.

It's my purpose here to examine some of their techniques. Recognizing and understanding the methods used may lead to successful means of neutralizing them, sometimes by the simple means of pointing out to others what's being done. While I feel that most of these techniques are not suitable for use by the opposition because of the simple matter of ethics (most of the techniques involve the promulgation of lies and distortions, or causing the truth to be effectively covered up or lost), there may yet be something in there of use.

Use of Echo Chamber to amplify and launder information of dubious, often anonymous origins that you wish to promote:


Think of the echo chamber in this way: If you have a smear, or some rumor of dubious origin, it will not stand the test of scrutiny by a major media organization like the New York Times because it's unverifiable. So you start by floating it through places like Drudge that pretend to be news, but claim no journalistic standards. The appearance of the rumor/smear on Drudge gives an immediate excuse for RW talk radio (Hannity/Rush etc.) to pick it up and discuss it breathlessly. Even if it goes no further, a lot of people have now heard about it. If there is enough talk radio "buzz" generated, then "mainstream" outlets might feel pressure to report the story, giving it the air of legitimacy.

A prime example is the false rumor during the 2004 Democratic primaries that Kerry had had an affair with a former intern, Alex Polier. This appeared on some Right owned UK media outlets and Drudge, with anonymous sources, and false quotes attributed to Polier's father. RW Talk radio then pimped it relentlessly, adding other juicy tidbits like "this is from the DEMS folks" (Limbaugh, claiming the story originated from Wes Clark camp). An attempt to kill the Kerry campaign early in the nest, which failed. And the story was never picked up by mainstream outlets.

Direct Smear, Anonymous:


Unsupported smear against the candidate or cause originating from some untraceable, anonymous source. Possibly amplified through the RW Echo chamber. McCain illegitimate African American child, spread through "push polls". False rumor of Kerry affair with intern Polier, spread via RW Echo Chamber.

Direct Smear, via named intermediary:


Swift Boat Vets. It helps if the intermediary person or organization is created or handpicked by you or your cronies. This doesn't originate with Rove, as Nixon did this by "creating" the Swift Boat Vet who debated Kerry on Dick Cavett among other places.

Increasing the Noise to Signal Ratio (or, Poisoning the Well):

My gut feeling is that this is Rove's favorite technique. In my opinion it is the one that is most uniquely associated with him.

Signal to Noise is an engineering concept used a lot in audio. Think of an music record album. The music is the signal. The noise is any hiss, scratches, pops on the record. A high Signal to Noise ratio means clarity of sound. The more the noise, the more the signal (the true, important information) tends to be lost.

Here's how this works. You take an area where there may be some negative, damaging information about your candidate or cause that is real. You plant some related FALSE piece or pieces of information that are also damaging to your candidate on the same topic, that are easily exposed by your operatives to be false. The resulting exposure taints the REAL negative information by association. Uncritical media consumer thinks, "all this stuff is bogus" including the real damaging information. Information damaging to you is now less potent because the well has been poisoned. Everything is now lost in the "noise".

Example 1: Fake rape photos from Iraq.

At the time the scandal of prisoner mistreatment in Abu Ghraib was at a peak after the initial release of photos from that prison, there appeared some photos that appeared to show the rape of Iraqi women on a website. The photos were staged pornography and not the documentation of actual criminal events from Iraq. However, their promulgation helped confuse the issue about what has happened in Abu Ghraib and other sites, especially as there exist actual photos documenting sexual violation of prisoners in Iraq. I don't know that Rove or anyone associated with shrubco produced these photos but they certainly attempted to take advantage of their existence, even to the point of having their mouthpiece Jeff Gannon in the WH press corps bring this topic up in the press gaggle. (see expert from May 10, 2004 McLellan press briefing below.) By the way it is interesting to search the WH press briefings for "Worldnet" to find numerous examples of shills planting Worldnet news articles into the briefings. The effect: if the existence of "bogus rape photos" is made widely enough known, when the topic of torture and sexual violation of Iraqi prisoners comes up, the ill informed American media consumer reacts "that stuff was all phony".

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/05/2004051...
Q Scott, what was the President's reaction to WorldNet Daily's report that photographs circulating all over the Middle East that depict American soldiers raping Iraqi women are false and originated on porn sites, so that our embassy in Cairo issued this statement: "We have done a thorough investigation of the origin of these photos and have conclusive evidence that they originated on a pornographic website. They are clearly staged photos done by actors, as the site itself states"? And I have a follow-up.

Example 2: Rather/Memogate.

There is plenty of information and documentation about GWB's entry into the Texas ANG, and not volunteering for overseas duty, not showing up for duty, "working something out with the Army" to go to Harvard Business School and get out of his obligation early etc.

In the heat of the 04 campaign, for documents of uncertain parentage on this topic to be sent to form the basis of a blockbuster "60 Minutes" story on this is a coup of the first order. We don't know for sure that the documents originated with Rove in any way, and that's of course a key element of his strategy, for things not to be traced back to him.

But consider if Rove operatives HAD provided those documents. Now, IMMEDIATELY with the appearance of the story you know is coming, a friendly FR poster "buckhead" mentions something about the fonts online, this is instantly picked up, the rest is history. Note the importance of the Echo chamber for immediate spread of the story.

Net effect: Any discussion about AWOL and shrub truancy leads to "that was all fake". Further bounus is that 60 Minutes and the CBS News organization, and Dan Rather, the source of stories seriously damaging to shrubco like the original release of Abu Ghraib photos on 60 Minutes II, all receive a black eye.

Example 3: Plamegate Noise.

Not all of "increasing noise to signal ratio" involves planting of fakes even though I feel that the plant is a signature Rove move. In the case of Plamegate, as the heat turned up on shrubco in the media coverage of the matter, the faxed RNC talking points utilized by Republicans and the RW media all centered on anything and everything other than what Rove and the White House did. The focus was on, Plame was a desk jockey, Plame was the one who sent Wilson on the trip, Plame was not a covert operative etc. When the casual media consumer has heard 20 RW opinion rants about how Plame was a desk jockey and maybe not really covert etc. they forget the real, SIGNAL issue of what the White House did to her, and most importantly, the reason why they did it.

Example 4: Cindy Sheehan

We see a lot of "increasing noise to signal" with the Sheehan story. Stories emphasizing her views on Israel/Palestine situation, whether she's going to pay her taxes, anything but the fact that her son died in the Iraq War and that she is the human personification of that majority of Americans who are disgusted with the war. Some of this "noise" may involve plants such as whatever email was supposedly received by ABC news from Cindy stating some of these views...

Media Plants:


I'm talking people, here, not talking points or documents. Jeff Gannon/TalonNews.com. Armstrong Williams, the mouthpiece columnist paid over $200K by the Education Department to pimp No Child Left Behind. I'm sure there are others we don't know about. All the money flowing in the Repub coffers via $10K a plate dinners ain't going to buy just straw hats.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56330-20...

Use of Repetitive Talking Points:


I saved this one for last because it seems like the only tactic emphasized by the Right Wing that might be of use to the opposition.

We see this tactic in use every week. What's amazing to me is that the RNC has sold a huge number of not just "friendly media personalities" but Republican officeholders on being an automaton choir.

The principle is simple. Ideas or even simple phrases, chosen by and originating from Mission Control (probably Rove but promulgated by the RNC) are sent out via fax or email or web or phone, on the hot button issue of the day. The talking point idea or phrase is repeated by each member of the choir. The effect is that the media consumer is bombarded with the same phrase over and over until it is embedded in their mind and emerges from their mouth. Obviously the essential concept does not originate with Rove but the current Republican Party is the biggest practitioner of this. Goebbels ("Propaganda means repetition and more repetition" "Repeat it until even the densest has got it") would weep with joy.

Below is a copy of GOP talking points on the Rove/Plamegate situation, obtained and published by RawStory. What is amazing to me is the discipline of the GOP machine that more copies of these haven't been found and published before. They HAVE to exist in some kind of written format to have any effect, phone calls won't do it.
http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Exclusive_GOP_talking_poi...

The most effective debunking of "talking points" I've seen involves merely showing their existence. This involves publishing the actual talking points memos if one finds them. But the most effective presentation of all is a video or audio montage, showing, in rapid succession, the mouthers of the talking points all repeating the key phrase, as I've seen done on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show". Nothing like seeing a succession of FOX News commentators, along with Republican Senators, RNC shills, and Condoleeza Rice all mouthing "the most liberal senator" over and over to look perfectly ridiculous. This kind of exposure of repetitive talking points is something one never sees from major media outlets though, even in editorial commentary, though it could be easily done since the footage is on file. No reason it couldn't form the focus of a news story: "The emergence of a new talking point phrase from the Republican Party seems to show a shift in the way the Bush Administration wishes to portray the Iraq War" for instance, followed by the montage of folks mouthing the mindless phrase o' the day. It would be legitimate news, and a bunch of stories like this on network news might tend to dissuade the Right Wing from utilizing this so heavily, as even they hate to look ridiculous.

Conclusions


It's clear that the RW propaganda tools in trade are generally used in concert. For instance, if there is a smear, it will be sent up through the Echo chamber. Talking points will generally promulgated via the Echo chamber as well, so they are repeated not only by party shills and politicians, but also by RW "media personalities". So we see that the Echo chamber (Drudge, RW Talk Radio, FOX) are an essential infrastructure to the RW propaganda mission that has been built up over years.

My personal feeling is that most of the methods described are not suitable for our use for the simple reason that they involve the promulgation of either lies or distortions, and that while these methods are often effective, they are not necessary or desirable for success in the propaganda and message management arena.

Creating a media infrastructure hospitable to liberal views is an essential mission, which sadly is only in its infancy. Stations such as Air America and Talk Left are a beginning, and a rather crude one at that, that still needs to find its full audience, refine content, recruit the best talent and weed out the less talented, etc. This is the topic of many other articles, and a project that likely will take many years. It could be decades if one considers the long road of the Right Wingers to get their media machine into its current position.

I don't think it's necessary for a liberal friendly media infrastructure to take the same form as the RW Echo chamber. The prominent role of Drudge and "talk" instead of "news" radio has the purpose of emphasizing anonymous and unreliably sourced information. In fact, an emphasis on reliable sourcing via weblinks and the like could be a hallmark of liberal friendly media that could strongly distinguish it from the RW Echo chamber.

I DO feel that the use of simple talking points could form an important element of opposition strategy. Just because it's a talking point doesn't mean it's false. If one heard various phrases, both in liberal media, as well as from leading politicians, such as George Bush's "failed presidency", "unpopular president", "unpopular war" etc. which could be easily backed up by poll results etc., it DOES have a tendency to sink into the public consciousness. Even if these talking points were viciously challenged by the RW media machine, it opens a debate on our terms. They don't WANT a debate on whether their president, or his war, is unpopular, and why.

I invite further conversation on this topic, and any further examples of the techniques I've described, or others that I have missed entirely, are welcome.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-20-05 05:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. we must use the truth
and nothing but. It would be a good idea to have groups (real groups, not made up ones) of people with credibility on hand to keep hammering home the truth. We're seeing that happen now, I think, in Camp Casey. It is rather hard to smear so many Gold Star families who are showing obvious real grief. One mother today said Bush hadn't even sent her a letter of condolance over the loss of her son, and she wants to know why. Rather hard for the Right to counteract that.

We can break through the noise by silence. The number of people erecting crosses and signs with the number of US dead is growing, as are the silent peace vigils, made all the more real with the inclusion of veterans.

As far as media plants are concerned, I think the thing to do is move to the internet for news and information. More and more people are doing this, not trusting mainstream media or cable news. This can also be seen in the slipping numbers of listeners to places like Fox. DU is a great place to come, because one can always find links where one can find out the latest news from a variety of sources.
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don954 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-20-05 05:35 PM
Response to Original message
2. the truth is our weapon
and connecting with the people is its delivery. The 2 word culture is killing American politics, we must learn to control it and derail it. We can use repetive talking points, but we need to make dam sure that they are 100% correct.
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Burried News Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-20-05 05:39 PM
Response to Original message
3. The truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Preferably with Fitzgerald showing us how to use it.
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emulatorloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-20-05 06:38 PM
Response to Original message
4. kicking and nominating EOM
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emulatorloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-05 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
5. again kicking this excellent piece of analysis
:kick:
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MissMarple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-22-05 10:44 AM
Response to Original message
6. The right wing propaganda ministry....just another arm of the government.
How Machiavellian. ;)
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