It’s one thing to campaign for office using sound bites and quite another to engage in sound bite governance. Yet that seems to be a normal thing that some of our leaders do, and the conservative media is helping them get these sound bites across. The sound bite gives these politicians a message that is very easy to promote and readily reinforces the bias and loyalty of their supporters. Whether it’s Donald Trump and his “Kung Flu” label, or Louie Gohmert politicizing the Justice Department, or Rudy Giuliani accusing the Black Lives Matter movement of wanting to steal your houses, the people who use these catchphrases care less about the truth than they do about rallying the support of their mob. Join Bill Stierle and Tom as they expound more on this topic in this conversation.
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Truth And “Only The Sound Bite Counts”
Bill, we have another event that is the departure point for our conversation. I’m interested to have this discussion because what it leads us to is what we’re calling only the soundbite counts. There was a House Judiciary Committee hearing that was shockingly off the rails, that’s my own labeling of it.
It was an investigation of the Justice Department. It’s whether or not the attorney general stepped across the line regarding sentencing, made the law political and did political favors inside the legal, which is something that has not been done up to this point, but now it’s been done. The thing that’s unsettling here is that politics has crossed the line over to the law. It’s something that hasn’t done as per the testimony of the three different people that talked about their experiences inside the Justice Department. All of a sudden, there was somebody tapping on the table why somebody was given their testimony, and that was a little bit tough to witness.
You’re right, Bill that the actions going on within the Justice Department are unsettling enough. In this hearing, when Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, did not want to allow the witness to finish their opening statement. It was going over the official allotted time that he had for that statement. He starts banging on the table or tapping his microphone and being disruptive. To me that in some ways is even more unsettling than what they’re trying to investigate in the first place. We should all want to have oversight and make sure that our government is not exceeding their authority and is serving the people. This representative cared more about following the rules of the hearing than hearing what the witness has to say. That behavior to me, I feel like this is where our country has been brought down to. It started with soundbite campaigning. We’ve gotten to a place of soundbite governing. How did we get here, Bill?
Soundbite government is something that I’ve thought about for a little bit in regards to the concept of purchasing truth. You’re trying to get the bias of what the voter is the thing that’s going to motivate them. You’re not as much interested in the truth. Truth has got to like go out the door a little bit. I want to do something to get the voter out and to vote for me. I want them to vote with something. I want to push their buttons so they come not to come out to vote because it’s a civic thing to do, but I want them to have an enraged motivation to vote for my cause. The more I trickle them with soundbite messages that activate their bias, then the more voters I’m going to get out. That’s one sword you can swing, but you’ve got to be careful because there’s a backend of that sword too. If the person loses in the place of when they have so much invested in their bias, they become violent on the other side because I’ve been yelling and screaming at about this and you’ve enraged me.Sound bite governance cares less about the truth than it does about getting voters. Click To Tweet
I’m now going to take my engagement on the people and the messages of who’s the person that is advocating for this. As you and I have seen in the past, I’d rather be Russian than a Democrat. It’s like, “I’m not sure if that person knows the t-shirt that they’re wearing would not be allowed in Russia. You can’t say I’d rather be an American than this other party in Russia. That’s not helpful. In Russia, you would never be able to work and express yourself that way because they don’t allow counter messages to take place. There are some problems with that. It’s a little bit of the weakness of our First Amendment is that, “You get to say stuff, you get to express yourself and you get to sell it,” but not at the expense of the greater good.
That’s where the line is crossed is you get to say things. It’s allowed to be promoted even if it’s not in alignment with the Constitution, even if it’s not alignment with the greater good because you get to express yourself the way you want to. You don’t get to say something derogatory about hurting somebody else. In the movies, they get to express themselves fully because that person is either the hero or the villain. Whether the law is going to catch them or not, we’ll have to see about that. They’re going to get it by the end of the movie or they didn’t get it by the end of the movie. The fun of fiction is we get to play those voices out. We have a fictional character that is a reality show, but it’s not a reality show. I’ve been on a reality show. It’s not reality. They script those things to make them interesting.
When we take a look at the truth and only the soundbite counts because it’s getting the bias to be realized and reinforced. I’m activating the bias inside the person to such an extent to create a disparency to this other party and assign this. Rudy Giuliani got on the TV and made the statement, “Black Lives Matter wants to take away your housing.” I’m going like, “That’s not even in the radar of truth.” You and I can look up the Rudy Giuliani quote in it. I’m thinking it’s like, “The soundbite gets to be promoted to inflame the bias of race. The enemy of race is coming to get the things I have.” Meanwhile, all of us people that are sitting on the place of, “Is there any evidence, or are there any truth to that?” The answer is it doesn’t matter if there’s evidence and truth. The soundbite is the thing that is counting because it’s reinforcing the bias.
It’s going to realize that somebody is going to take something because I’ve always believed they’re going to take something. I’ve been listening to Fox News for several years and they’re going to take something. They’ve taken things from me before because that bias has been repeated. It’s not because they’ve done it, but the bias has become a reality. The promotion of an associative truth has become evidence where it’s not evidence. It’s associating immigrants with violence. Why? For the many years on TV and movies, who are you going to cast as the evil guy? It’s not the white guy. The white guy is the hero and they’ve gotten a lot of traction out of leveraging that bias inside the person’s consciousness. It’s unsettling.
It’s sad to me to say that it’s disheartening that we’ve gotten used to President Donald Trump doing this all the time. It started the day he announced to be a candidate for president in 2015. That’s when he came down the escalator and talked about Mexicans bringing in drugs and rapists, and some of them are fine people. From that point, he was campaigning through soundbites. We’ve gotten used to that. Even at the Tulsa, Oklahoma rally, it was all about soundbites. There was very little truth he expressed in that rally. It was all about getting out the soundbites and rallying his base.
The governance and the promotion of a soundbite narrative is, you can watch him do it on stage. People don’t understand how successful this is. He goes, “COVID-19, what does the COVID mean? What does the nineteen mean? People understand what the nineteen mean. The audience is yelling at him the answer. It’s the year that the virus came out. They’re giving them the answer. What the audience doesn’t know is they’re being baited into loyalty that he has the truth because then he shifts it over. He lets the audience do it. He rethinks the Kung Flu virus. The brilliance of that is what a marketer is interested in doing and what a brand is interested in doing is saying, “I have the answer and you’re a participant in the answer.”
They’re the participant. Their voices being heard by him asking an open-ended question that he knows they know the answer for and they will fill in the bias. He repeats the bias and everybody goes, “That’s funny and true.” Meanwhile, it’s going like, “It’s racist too or it’s not fully true,” because you didn’t protect us from this thing where you’re using this trauma and crisis thing to get us beyond the commercial break. Every TV show, whether it’s Rachel Maddow or anybody, they set up an anticipatory set so that you can work your way through the commercials to stay on the show, to get the latest news. It’s not like this is a mystery. It’s called the hook. He baits the hook. He throws it out there and the fish go ahead and get on the hook. They say, “Yes. It’s the Kung Flu.”
This Kung Flu label is blatantly racist. The irony is a lot of the Donald Trump supporters at the rally there don’t realize it’s racist. They think it’s amusing that it’s a joke. That’s part of what is bringing us all down to a new level. It’s disheartening.It doesn't matter if there's evidence and truth; the sound bite is the thing that counts because it reinforces the bias. Click To Tweet
I’m going to pretend I’m a newscaster. Let’s say I’m Jake Tapper. I know that this person is going to come in here and try to talk about their soundbites, their talking points. They’re going to try to push their talking points. Meanwhile, the talking points are true, but not going to answer the question. the person’s loaded with, “Here are the five things I want to say on this three-minute segment.” This is why people come on the Bill Maher Show, Republicans come on there. They have the courage to go on there. Why do they have the courage to go on there? Because they’re going to talk about their soundbites and distract everybody off of the main message. That’s all their job is to, “I’m going to distract somebody off the main message and I’m going to insert my soundbite.” That’s what I’m doing. That’s my job. They’re disciplined about staying on the soundbite.
The moderator or the host of the show doesn’t have your skills, Bill, to be able to call them out or give them empathy and help them walk out on the plank.
Spray paint, doubt or skepticism on their belief and go like, “It’s a harmful narrative. Yes, it’s partially true, but it’s harmful. If you’re here to activate somebody’s bias, could you please don’t do that?” All of a sudden, the person goes like, “The person pulled my pants down.” It’s a little embarrassing, but it’s like, “Don’t you activate somebody’s negative bias in the middle of the show and create doubt here. Don’t you do that.”
It will be refreshing when they have a panel on the Bill Maher show. It’d be refreshing if you’re on there, Bill, because I would love to see how you don’t let them get away with that. The interesting thing and what we’re pointing out is that it is soundbite campaigning or soundbite marketing, soundbite advocacy. What’s disheartening is in this House Judiciary Committee. What we saw there was soundbite governance. That to me is sad to see.
Take a breath and watch this because you’re going to get exasperated like I’m getting exasperated. Why? The need for truth isn’t being able to be seen or heard. Here’s what happened. The conversation is not about what the person was testifying about. The conversation is about the behavior of the person that was banging the thing. The proportionality of reporting is going to be on his behavior like you are getting hooked in that direction. As I was getting hooked in that direction, it’s like this thing that this message about corruption and/or the politicization of the Justice Department is so much more damaging on whether or not he was banging on the table.
I am not interested in talking about him banging on the table. I will then empathize with him banging on the table. It seems like he was interested in two minutes ahead of the need for truth. He was not interested in the need for truth out of the witness or even the respect for the witness. He was more interested in following the rules of time because he was given extra time to complete his opening statement. The chairman gave him extra time. The rules are only applied strictly to the Democrats and the bar is different. The adjustment is different.
On the Republican side, Hillary Clinton had to limbo underneath the narrative of 30,000 emails where Donald Trump could walk under his limbo bar with all the different scandals that he did. The bars are not even. There’s no measuring of a person’s behavior. What the soundbites do is the soundbite becomes the person’s behavior. Instead of the soundbite of, “He said that the attorney general has politicized the legal department, the highest law office in land.” He’s politicized us and asked for favors where that is not what you do in the legal department. The law needs to be applied evenly to everyone because the law is the only thing that checks power.
Bill, as you’ve often said on this show, you’re explaining that and explanation doesn’t land. Truth doesn’t land. These soundbites land. That’s one thing that Republicans are very good at.The law needs to be applied evenly to everyone because the law is the only thing that checks power right now. Click To Tweet
I’m so glad you brought me out of the explanation narrative because the explanation narrative doesn’t allow us to do this one. William Barr is associated with politicizing the legal system. It’s the first time that’s ever been done. It is the first-time political metrics are being applied to the legal system. Is that the direction in which America goes? America’s new direction, the politicization of the Republicans are advocating the politicization of the Justice Department, “New direction for America.” Do you see how I’m working towards the soundbite? I am brainstorming towards that soundbite because I need the lead sentence. I need the one that’s so shocking that the nation goes like, “What happened?” Favors and favoritism are given to the presidency above the legal system like it hasn’t been experienced in the past. “New direction for America?”
The law is whatever the administration in power wants it to be. You’re going to start getting some people’s attention.
What it does is it brings the voters out. It’s not bad that soundbites are used to hijack a person’s bias. My request is let’s see if we could get soundbites to work in favor of truth. We’ve got to purchase truth back. We’ve got to get it back to work. Soundbites are easy to digest. They’re easy to remember, build a wall, lock them up, make America great. They’re easy to brand. I can put it on the hat. I could put it on a t-shirt. I can put it on a bumper sticker. They’re easy to promote. You can give that soundbite to anybody and they can say it. You can give the soundbite to a common man and woman to propagate to their friends. I was at a rally of Black Lives Matter on one side of the street and Donald Trump supporters on the other side of the street, “Blacks Lives Matters.” Here’s what gets yelled back here, “Black on black crime.” That is a narrative from the right side. The soundbite is, what about blacks having crimes on black people?
How is this relevant?
They’ve been fed the belief that crime happens in black neighborhoods. Why? What would you do if somebody took away your freedoms and gave you no way out? Think of it this way. This is where it gets strange. You take a community of color and you don’t allow any good jobs to be in there. You don’t allow any economic development to take place. You put them behind the eight ball on work elements and you have them get degrees and things like that. Even if you get the degree, you don’t get paid as much as the other person does because they can take advantage of not paying you as much and things like that. You push down the income there and you start taking away the freedoms. Wouldn’t do you think that if that same strategy was taken and put in a white community? “You can’t get this. You can’t have that.” Wouldn’t white people rebel against their freedoms being taken place?
I would think so.
That’s what happened at the front of the state building of Michigan. You took away their haircuts. You took away their ability to shop. You took away their things. That same thing has been happening to the black community. It’s slavery. That what’s been happening. We’re wondering why there’s violence there. Look what happened? You took away haircuts because of COVID. It’s like the worst weird example. If we remember to increase soundbites that have a truth anchor to it, versus soundbites that have a lesser truth anchor to it. What happens is it’s easy to rally behind. The soundbite is easy to rally behind.
That’s what allowed Louie Gohmert to hijack that hearing and the news cycle afterward because it wasn’t at all about what the testimony was about. It was about the fact that he’s tapping on the table, tapping on the microphone. Fox News hailed this as, “He’s a patriot. He’s a hero. He’s fighting for us,” when for several years from now, when the Republicans are in control of the committee, if they have control of the House and a Democrat were to do that. Sean Hannity, who I’m sure hailed Louie Gohmert as a hero is going to call whatever Democratic representative does that as committing treason. They don’t care one bit about the hypocrisy, that doesn’t matter. They don’t care about fact-checking.The law is whatever the administration in power wants it to be. That’s America right now. Click To Tweet
A soundbite has a longer life span in a person’s memory. All I’ve got to do is say Willie Horton and everybody was orienting towards that soundbite. Revolving liberals want to let prisoners out so they can create crime. It’s like, “No, they don’t.” That answer is no help because that’s what the ad showed is revolving doors. This is what liberals do is they want the prison staff revolving doors and we want our communities safe. That’s the first step towards racism.
In campaigning, we want messages to stick. The soundbite counting is real. The button campaign and all of the Democrats running for reelection in the House and Senate better go to school on this and learn how to re-get their own soundbite messages to stick. Governing by soundbites to me is a very scary escalation. It’s tapping that elephant brain like we’ve talked about of the people.
It affects the emotional part of the brain and the safekeeping brain because where safekeeping is where habit lives. If you’ve reinforced the message of habit, and I’d like newscasters to get ahold of this detail, you can easily shift a person’s narrative. As soon as the person goes over 7 to 13 words, you can see the direction in which they’re going to try to hijack truth. You can purchase it back by saying, “You’re talking about fairness?” The person goes, “Yes.” They can’t finish their sentence. “Do you think fairness looks like this?” You ask it as a question mark. They have to say yes, because now all of a sudden, they can’t contradict themselves and saying like, “I’m not sure if that fairness is proportional.”
All of a sudden, it’s like, “We’re going to have a deep conversation.” Proportional fairness would look like this. The newscaster is advocating for truth and framing what the person’s saying. It is like, “There’s a little bit of red in your picture over there, but it’s not the yellow that’s in the predominant part of the thing.” Louie Gohmert banging is not a big thing. The big thing is it’s the politicization of the Justice Department. On a scale of 1 to 10, it is clearly a ten. That’s not what’s taking place. What’s taking place is the creation of loyalty, the enrollment of emotion. The bias is being realized and reinforcing inside the long-term memory of somebody that has already voted for Donald Trump.
If all those messages do is to manage to fire up Donald Trump’s base, that’s fine. They’re not going to be convinced about for anybody else anyway. If they start infecting the people in the middle, that 10% to 15%, that’s how Donald Trump can win. It’s neither side can win. They need to sway enough people in their direction. Bill, I appreciate your perspective on the soundbite. That is very important.
Next time let’s take a look at how this process has got to go back. We could go down and even do part two on how the soundbite purchases truth. The examples are you’ve got to look every day. At the same time, it’s hard not to get worked up. The next time we’ve got to try to provide support to our audience and also to the people in news media as to how to start staring at this thing in a new way. All of them regrettably try to build up the opposite evidence and that’s not what’s important.
Battling it with the truth doesn’t help.
More to come, Tom. This is a good one. Thanks.
Bill, thank you.
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