Undiplomatic Banner
12th September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:45 am

Framing, the Media, and the McCain Campaign

Steve Schmidt and the other soulless Rovians running the McCain campaign understand something that neither the Obama campaign nor the mainstream media do:  that if you utter a lie, no matter how outrageous, the lie will be repeated, even if it the other side is criticizing or refuting it.  When Obama calls the McCain sex ad perverse, people hear Obama is perverse.  When the media mockingly refers to the straight talk express, people hear that McCain is a straight talker.  And when the media, in the name of balance, don’t call what McCain is doing a flat-out lie, people only hear the original message.

This is framing 101.  The problem is that the McCain campaign adheres to the gospel of Frank Luntz, the Republican framing guru, and the Obama campaign doesn’t listen to his George Lakoff, his Democratic counterpart.  Luntz and Lakoff both argue variations on the same theme:  that people connect emotionally not intellectually, and trying to convince them with intellectual arguments only reinforces their existing perceptions.

This isn’t about the media taking sides.  It’s about the media not falling into traps set by either side, where they mindlessly repeat what the campaigns say, even when doing so just reinforces the existing frame.  In addition, the media have to stop inserting their assumptions into analysis:  “McCain is too honorable to have done that,” or “Obama doesn’t get angry.”

What does this mean for the Obama campaign?  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  they need to go on the offensive and they need to do it now.  Last night, Sarah Palin gave them a huge gift:  she said that she was willing to go to war with Russia over Georgia.  The Obama campaign needs to beat that drum and beat it repeatedly for the next twenty-four hours:  “McCain-Palin want to get American involved in another senseless war — except this time with a country that could strike back.”

It’s that simple.  Now do it.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 12th, 2008 at 10:45 am and is filed under none of the above. It is tagged under , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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