Narrative Wars: Slap the Honey Boo Boos with Truthaganda
Memo to non-leftist bloggers, reporters, and culture-shapers: TAKE THE GODDAMN GLOVES OFF.
This campaign just got real. From right now until election day, no holds are barred.
The mainstream media has dropped all pretense of impartiality. Their behavior in response to the latest Mideast crisis was blatant, outrageous — and effective. When the world erupted on September 11 and the Obama administration groveled at the feet of our barbarian attackers, the major news outlets — knowing that this was a disastrous turn of events for the Obama campaign which could not be spun in his favor — decided the only solution was to brazenly change the subject to a fabricated peripheral side issue: that Romney had committed some kind of "gaffe" by criticizing the government's weak-kneed response.
As Obama's dithering threatened to ignite a world war, a significant percentage of mainstream news outlets blared headlines like ROMNEY GAFFE DERAILS REPUBLICAN HOPES and ROMNEY WON'T BACK DOWN FROM FALSE CLAIM. Of course neither of these headlines (nor countless similar headlines over the past two days) was factually true: The only thing that transformed Romney's rather mild criticism into a "gaffe" was that the media itself declared it to be so.
The MSM knows full well it manipulates The Narrative, and invariably does so to the benefit of Obama, the Democrats, and "progressivism" in general. And people like you and I know this full well too. But until now the media has at least feigned impartiality, not to trick us but in order to maintain credibility and influence over the Honey Boo Boos.
Who Are the Honey Boo Boos?
Honey Boo Boos is a term I just made up for the last remaining undecided voters in America. As you may have read at the time, the infantile and atrocious reality TV show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo either surpassed or tied the viewership totals of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. That means millions of people are so tuned out of politics and so uninterested in current affairs that they'd rather watch a family of obese rednecks abusing their young daughter than learn even the most basic facts about the next president of the United States. These Honey Boo Boo viewers are what pollsters like to call "low information voters," but that descriptor is not complete: Honey Boo Boos are also low interest voters whose political ideology is either easily malleable or absent altogether.
To that extent they can be easily manipulated — if you can get their attention. But getting their attention is not so simple.
Since about 90% of the evenly split electorate has already chosen their candidates, and are exceedingly unlikely to ever change their minds, the Honey Boo Boos are the only remaining pool of potential voters worth targeting. And the media thinks it has figured out how to target them.
Since Honey Boo Boos barely pay any attention to the "news," they get their information through a sort of unconscious osmosis of the general national zeitgeist. If enough half-read headlines and talking heads droning in the background say the economy is in the dumps, then the Honey Boo Boos eventually internalize that the economy must be in the dumps. If candy canes and wreaths start appearing in store windows and a few notes of muzak "Jingle Bells" remain audible above the screaming toddlers, then the Honey Boo Boos figure Christmas must be coming up soon. And if a sufficient plurality of media outlets scream that some guy named Romney did something stupid, then this Romney guy must be an idiot.
Really, that's about how deep it goes.
The media knows that at this stage in the election, the headline is all that matters. And the headline need only be barely supported by some underlying veracity. If you can find some cooperative Democratic staffer to mouth the word "gaffe," then you're off to the races with a deceptive headline whose only purpose is to impact the retina of a distracted Honey Boo Boo if only for a second.
Truthaganda vs. Propaganda
Conservatives and libertarians spend far too much time having apoplectic fits over this relentless media bias, even though it isn't really directed at us, nor even at liberals. If we want to impact the Honey Boo Boos in the same way, then we've got to start playing the media's game, and playing it NOW, since time is running out before November 6.
Too often we non-leftist bloggers, editors and pundits fashion our headlines to appeal to fellow non-leftists, or at least to well-informed "reasonable" readers. But those people have already irreversibly made up their minds, long ago. We've got to consciously start targeting the Honey Boo Boos. Metaphorically slap 'em upside the head.
The goal is to create an enveloping data matrix which gives the Honey Boo Boos a sort of half-aware impression that the narrative we've concocted for them is not simply a partisan narrative fighting for their allegiance but rather is simply the way things are.
To that end, the headlines need to be as unsubtle as possible, but still hewing to reality -- reality through our lens.
I call this approach "truthaganda," to contrast it with the leftists' more traditional and more mendacious "propaganda." The progressives have a massive advantage over us because their Gramscian predecessors have gotten a hammer-lock on the mainstream media which they have no intention of ever letting go; but we at least have truth on our side. All we've got to do is turn that truth up to 11. Perhaps even 11.5.
Examples From Today's Headlines
Let's look at two stories from today's news stream as examples.
In the first, various outlets reported that the Obama administration has asked YouTube to censor and take offline the goofy anti-Mohammed film, since it offends Muslims.
Now, a fair number of right-minded pundits and bloggers wisely jumped on this story. HotAir, as a typical example, titled their version "White House: Yes, we asked YouTube to consider removing that Mohammed movie." Most other headlines were similar: Accurate, moderately concise.
But no Honey Boo Boo could get even halfway through that headline. It was directed at pre-existing news junkies. I propose that we emulate our MSM betters by incorporating the next level of assumption into the headline itself; a truthagandistic headline for this story would be
OBAMA IMPOSES NEW BLASPHEMY RULES
Making it big and red like that helps too.
Just as the MSM leapt over the baseline facts and trumpeted in the headline the presumptive opinion that Romney had committed a "gaffe," so we too will leap over the baseline facts and jump to the the second-tier analysis that this amounts to a unilateral imposition of blasphemy laws through executive intimidation. It's just as true as, if not more true than, any number of biased headlines that appear hourly without shame in progressive-friendly media outlets (i.e. most of them).
Blogger Ace of Spades came closest, as he often does, to the truthaganda ideal, with his headline:
US GOVERNMENT NOW ACTING AS CENSORSHIP ARM OF ISLAMISTS
Very good. Halfway there. Seven-Eighths of the way there. But perhaps still directed a little bit too much toward the already-convinced, those who even know what an "Islamist" is.