Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bowling Green Massacre

George Lakoff, the cognitive linguist, argues for an applied taxonomy to explain Trump Tweets.

This taxonomy aligns closely with our previous discussion of Trump's key tactic when questioned by reporters --- deny, deflect, distract, accuse (DDDA). The perfect example was the sinister birtherism lie .
Our mainstream press allows the more aggressive candidate or officeholder establish the frame. Hillary Clinton was not aggressive, so a questioner like Matt Lauer or Chris Wallace could easily establish the frame, to paraphrase, "How could someone as terrible as you consider yourself qualified to be president?". Trump would follow the DDDA pattern or just swat the question away - "I don't talk about that anymore."
Lakoff's recent interview in Salon hits the nail on the head. Speaking of the Enlightenment reasoning of Descartes:
"So what he [Descartes] said, basically, was that there are no frames, no embodiment, no metaphor — none of the things people really use to reason. Moreover if we think logically and we all have the same reasoning, if you just tell people the facts, they should reason to the same correct conclusion. And that just isn’t true. And that keeps not being true, and liberals keep making the same mistake year after year after year. So that’s a very important thing."

In that interview, he proceeds to identify the Trump success on the level of metaphor and to explain what progressives need to do to frame issues.

But, at least in this discussion, Lakoff does not identify what mainstream journalists need to stop doing. They need to stop fact checking. That's right. Fact checking is playing into hand of the speaker who controls the narrative and who cares not at all about whether a statement is true or false or nuanced. Each fact check by a journalist sends the media down into the mine of data. The award of Pinocchios is ignored by everyone. And then there is another statement to fact check.

In a way, the strategy of sending journalists into fact checking mode and falsely accusing an opponent like HRC so that journalists pepper her with questions about the accusation - accepting the frame - is the true massacre of 2016. The massacre of truth. The Real Bowling Green Massacre.

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