Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 08:51:11 -0600 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: 13 Techniques Again
This is a repost to facilitate evaluation of the new Starr Report and the news coverage thereof:
Strong, credible allegations of high-level criminal activity can bring down a government. When the government lacks an effective, fact-based defense, other techniques must be employed. The success of these techniques depends heavily upon a cooperative, compliant press and a mere token opposition party.
Dummy up. If it's not reported, if it's not news, it didn't happen.
Wax indignant. This is also known as the "How dare you?" gambit.
Characterize the charges as "rumors" or, better yet, "wild rumors." If, in spite of the news blackout, the public is still able to learn about the suspicious facts, it can only be through "rumors." (If they tend to believe the "rumors" it must be because they are simply "paranoid" or "hysterical.")
Knock down straw men. Deal only with the weakest aspects of the weakest charges. Even better, create your own straw men. Make up wild rumors (or plant false stories) and give them lead play when you appear to debunk all the charges, real and fanciful alike.
Call the skeptics names like "conspiracy theorist," "nutcase," "ranter" "kook," "crackpot," and, of course, "rumormonger." Be sure, too, to use heavily loaded verbs and adjectives when characterizing their charges and defending the "more reasonable" government and its defenders. You must then carefully avoid fair and open debate with any of the people you have thus maligned. For insurance, set up your own "skeptics" to shoot down.
Impugn motives. Attempt to marginalize the critics by suggesting strongly that they are not really interested in the truth but are simply pursuing a partisan political agenda or are out to make money (compared to over-compensated adherents to the government line who, presumably, are not).
Invoke authority. Here the controlled press and the sham opposition can be very useful.
Dismiss the charges as "old news."
Come half-clean. This is also known as "confession and avoidance" or "taking the limited hangout route." This way you create the impression of candor and honesty while only admitting to relatively harmless, less-than-criminal "mistakes." This strategem often requires the embrace of a fall-back position quite different from the one originally taken. With effective damage control, the fall-back position need only be peddled by stooge skeptics to carefully limited markets.
Characterize the crimes as impossibly complex and the truth as ultimately unknowable.
Reason backward, using the deductive method with a vengeance. With thoroughly rigorous deduction, troublesome evidence is irrelevant. E.g. We have a completely free press. If evidence exists that the Vince Foster "suicide" note was forged, they would have reported it. They haven't reported it so there is no such evidence. Another variation on this theme involves the likelihood of a conspiracy leaker and a press who would report the leak.
Require the skeptics to solve the crime completely. E.g. If Foster was murdered, who did it and why?
Change the subject. This technique includes creating and/or publicizing distractions.
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