Suggested Talking Points That Democrats Can Use to Train Media to Treat Democrats Fairly

I recently had an exchange on Twitter with my friend @KeynesAddiction. He gave me permission to publish his great answer to a question journalists keep asking Democratic politicians.

I will reproduce the ideas further below. But here just below is a tweet from the thread where we conversed, so you can go to his timeline on Twitter and check out what he has to say.

The question here is how can Democrats train the media to be more fair toward Democrats. Talking points are essential. Democrats need to decide what they believe is most important for the nation — and then to all say it repeatedly until it sinks into the minds of TV, radio and newspaper audiences. The failure to do this is the reason why so many voters think they don’t know what Democrats believe in, even while they may think they do know what Republicans believe. Republicans keep repeating what they say they believe until everyone remembers it. Democrats don’t.

Here’s an essay I’ve written on this subject.

@KeynesAddiction came up with a great talking point. It answers a question that is frequently asked of Democrats and Democratic politicians by people in media.

KA: “Democrats need to train the media and not cater to their both sides reporting. For example, any time a Democrat proposes anything that helps Americans, reporters’ first question is, “how will you pay for it?”

Here is @KeynesAddiction’s answer.

KA: “As you can clearly see, Reagan took the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion. Bush 41 took it to $300 billion. Clinton created a surplus. Bush 43 took it from zero to $1.2 trillion. Obama halved it to $600 billion. Trump’s got it back to over $1.2 trillion. Do you dispute any of these facts?”

(The reporter should say No, since all these statements are true.)

KA: “ So Chuck (assuming the reporter’s name is Chuck, as it sometimes is), if you don’t dispute these facts, why do you keep asking Democrats about the deficit, when you know it is only the Republicans who are responsible for deficits? Why, as a reporter, are you being unfair to Democrats by asking this question, when you know the truth?”

I would love it if Democrats routinely gave this answer to that question by journalists, TV hosts etc.

Democratic voters often don’t understand how Democrats can stand up for themselves. Too many think that the way for Dems to stand up for themselves is to call Trump names. That may make entertaining theater. But it changes nothing. To point out realities to the powerful press that chooses our leaders is a far more productive step.

Yes, that’s what I said: Media choose our leaders. For example, the billions in free air time that mainstream media gave to Trump prior to the 2016 election made a difference in who won.

If you don’t think the press chooses our leaders — or that those who influence or manipulate the press most expertly choose our leaders — here is an interesting article explaining how this works. I disagree with the authors’ opinion that psychographic profiling of the type done by Cambridge Analytica is ineffective. Since what Cambridge Analytica did is secret, it is not possible for others to evaluate it. Therefore, we have no basis for an opinion on it. But otherwise, the points here are good ones.

@KeyenesAddiction continues, saying that Democrats ought to “fight the Republicans and media with iron fists.”

Democrats do sometimes stand up to Republicans. After all, Democrats did impeach and have passed a number of good bills. However, they don’t often stand up to media.

Also, sometimes standing up to Republicans can’t work. In recent decades, it’s been the Republican plan to give themselves all credit and to give Democrats all blame, regardless of what Democrats do. Republicans have consistently followed through on that plan. Because they control the Senate currently, and because they manipulate media expertly, they have the power to do this.

KA continues “Democrats keep on making the same strategic error over and over again. Reaching out to Republicans gets you a knife in the back. When Trump and Republicans were on their heels and their polling was crashing, after Schiff’s awesome impeachment trial, instead of doing emoluments, they wrapped up. Why?”

My own view is that whether Dems should have done emoluments next is an empirical question, in terms of how voters would have reacted. That is, it is a question that could be answered by research or experience. Democrats don’t get much intensive focus group or market research done, because Democrats are science deniers in the area of political marketing/messaging. We don’t have anyone doing the kinds of focus group research that Frank Luntz did for the Republicans, showcased in his book Words That Work.

Republicans also apparently do a lot of deep subconscious type research. They are well aware of American voters’ needs, desires and fears. Democrats often act as if they have no clue. Here is my essay about how that played out in the 2016 election.

Lies work well to win elections if marketed expertly. Honest sound legislation and actions in Congress on behalf of the public don’t work IF every opportunity to effectively communicate about what you’ve done is missed or used in a counterproductive way. This is the story of Republicans vs. Democrats in communication with voters.

Whether continuing impeachment would have worked or not, may have depended on what messages Democrats gave the public and the media, about the continuation of impeachment.

@KeynesAddiction sees the (possibly premature) end to impeachment proceedings this way: “Republicans and Trump were flailing until Pelosi took her stiletto out of their necks and gave them air.”

In another example of Democrats not standing up for the public against Republicans, KA says “Reaching out to Republicans led directly to electing Trump. First, when Obama had a chance to fill the Director of the FBI, instead of choosing a strong Democrat, because he wanted to show bipartisanship and reach across the aisle, he chose Comey who stabbed Hillary in the back.”

Me: I agree. Obama compromised too much — like almost all Democrats do. He ended up giving away the whole farm. These are normal human mistaken beliefs — not just Democrats’ beliefs. Monbiot says “We are a society of altruists ruled by psychopaths.” The reason is that most people don’t understand con artists or understand how to deal with them. Obama was not exception there.

KA: Why hasn’t any Democrat stated clearly that Republicans don’t believe in government helping Americans and that they want to actively destroy it?

I definitely agree that Democrats should do this.

Here’s my guess as to why they haven’t yet . There is plenty of GOP propaganda in mainstream media. This is because major mainstream media hire or invite many Right Wingers for “balance” and “to cover both sides.” Because of this, GOP propaganda is repeated so very often, even in mainstream media, that it turns into “conventional wisdom.” This “conventional wisdom” has persuaded many Democrats that they will lose if they are “negative” toward GOP.

In summary, I like these two Democratic talking points from my friend @KeynesAddiction. I suggest we all phone our Democratic representatives and ask them to start using these right away and repeatedly. While we’re at it, we can also phone our favorite liberal TV hosts and request they do the same.

  1. “You (a reporter) ask: How are we going to pay for it? This is an absurd question. Democrats always pay attention to the budget and do not overspend. (See @KeynesAddiction ‘s explanations of this above here for more detail on the subject.) History shows that it is Republicans who always blow up the budget to the sky, and Democrats who always spend prudently.”

2. And here’s an answer to questions about differences in Republicans vs. Democrats with regard to the role of government itself. This one could be useful every time there is a discussion of Trump’s actions of dismantling governmental institutions and causing them to malfunction. “Republicans don’t believe in government helping Americans. They want to actively destroy it.”

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store