As we near October, people have become even more sensitive when it comes to the truth. In the coming elections, where is the October surprise going to be? How will the truth, or the purchasing of it rather, affect it? In this episode, Bill Stierle and Tom get right down to it. They talk about each of Joe Biden’s and Donald Trump’s camps, how they frame their messages, counteract them, and prepare for that October surprise. Plus, they also discuss the recent rumor of Donald Trump being offered the CEO position for Fox News. How will the truth be told in that situation? Who can we trust? Bill and Tom answer these questions and more.
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Truth, The October Surprise, And Donald Trump As CEO For Fox News
Bill, we’re in the middle of convention season for the Democrats and the Republicans. There seems to be a lot of polls that are indicating that Joe Biden has a lead even beyond any margins of errors, if you believe polls. I know a lot of people don’t believe polls. At this time of year after conventions, there’s always a convention bounce for each candidate. Then things returned to normal in terms of polling. There are a lot of ifs in this statement, if the voting system works, if every vote is counted. There isn’t a major surprise Joe Biden is likely to win the election now. There’s always a danger of an October surprise. There are a lot of theories about this. Everybody is waiting for that October surprise. When is that shoe going to drop? We’ve had some in the past.
The need for truth and trust is so sensitive. People are looking for stability with truth and trust. They’d rather go with a bias, something I’ve voted for in the past, rather than say, “Let me stare that thing down. Could that even be possible? I trust this person, but doesn’t this message look like it’s a little timely or out of place?” Once you get the confused mind, the mind that’s in the state of doubt, confused, skeptical, hesitant, the voter will default to the elephant brain or to the habit brain and will vote in that direction. They’re waiting for that one little piece of evidence that they put on their side like, “I’m going with this guy rather than this gal.” That’s a little bit about what happened with James Comey backtracking on, “We found this other set of databases. We don’t know, so we’re going to investigate this other thing on Hillary’s email.” After the election, “I’m sorry, we didn’t find anything.” It was like, “You don’t know what you did. What you did is create the doubt and skepticism for the voter.”
That doubt and skepticism caused the person to go like, “I’m not sure I don’t want to vote for this person. I’m voting for this person because this person is claiming that they know the real answer. I’m going to take their confidence as truth.” Notice he doesn’t sell truth. He sells confidence. He sells, “I know I’m rich. I know how to manage big money.” All of the people around him know he does not know how to manage big money. He does not know how to be mindful, turn a profit, create the value that needs to be created. He would compromise. He didn’t do any of those things. The challenge when we get to the October surprise is that it’s the one little grain of rice that gets moved over to one side from a propaganda position that says, “Here’s the piece of evidence that I need.”
I watch ads and videos and things on both sides. I watch both groups of people put out their messaging. I’m going like, “It’s a bunch of videos that are clipped together about Joe Biden.” “What happened to Joe Biden? is one of the latest Republican videos. The answer is he’s older than he used to be. This is what happened to Joe Biden, just like your guy. You’re taking years of video footage from him and going like, “These are the little clip snippets.” If we want to edit the worst things we say out, this is editing the worst things in to create a message that is not fully true about the person. It has a partial truth to it, but it’s not fully true because of the way the video has been edited.
The Democrats are guilty of the same thing with Donald Trump. They take his greatest worst hits and put them together and make him look absurdly absurd. They all do that. I don’t think the age debate is going to land very well. They’re both old. Joe Biden’s camp should be putting out a video showing him riding a bicycle, doing some physical exercise and Donald Trump gingerly stepping down the ramp at that military graduation, but they haven’t done that surprisingly.
It could be an October surprise. It’s the grain of sand principle. It’s like, “I’m moving this little grain of sand over here because I’m going to tip the scale of the 10% of the voters.” They know they struggle with the people on anything on the other side of moderate. Both sides struggle with that. We’re not going to get the people over here because their bias is deeply entrenched on the other side bad. They’re looking for evidence of the other side bad instead of going other side people. We’re people here. They’re people there. What is their point of view again? That’s a vibrant democracy is these are people trying to discuss difficult issues. Let’s keep our eye on the ball here, but they can’t keep their eye on the ball because their limbic brain, their elephant brain is saying, “I’m going with what I have invested in, loyal to and what I know not necessarily to what’s true.”People are looking for stability with truth and trust. They'd rather go with a bias. Click To Tweet
That’s the thing that’s also pretty upsetting in this process of things too. How do we take a look at the propaganda messages and figure out where the October surprise is going to be? Is it going to be a message like, “I have the vaccine, I got it from Russia. They are helping us with this. It shows that we can work together with foreign nations?” There’s a third of the people that will instantly believe him, no questions asked, “I have a relationship with, I can work with.” There’s another third of the people going like, “What are you doing?” You’re telling your third a message that is not in the wellbeing of America. It’s also not in the wellbeing of truth because it’s going to magically disappear just like all the other promises that you made for us. It’s the third and the middle that I’m scared about. It’s like how much of them are going to go to, “Let’s take another chance on this guy?” How many of them are going to go like, “I’m not taking another chance on this guy?”
How many of them are going to take the bait? That’s what it is, bait. It’s trying to win them back over, “If you don’t believe I accomplished everything I said I was going to do the first time, this is going to be something you’re going to want to keep me around for because without me, you’re not going to get this vaccine.” That’s what he’s going to try to say.
“Joe Biden doesn’t have a relationship with Vladimir Putin the way I have a relationship with Vladimir Putin. That’s going to cut off our chances of getting the vaccine that we need.” I can imagine some narrative that’s similar to that coming out. They’re going to look at what are the things that we’re going to fly out week-over-week. This is a ground game. This is a block and tackle. To use the football metaphor, “I’m running off tackling. You’ve got to see if you can stop me. By the way, I’m going to keep pounding you with this message. You’re weak on that side. I’m going to give another message and we’re going to pound on the other side with a new message.”
That would be a powerful October surprise or a powerful attempt at an October surprise. I could see Joe Biden and the Democrats counteracting that saying, “You can go get that vaccine from Russia, Donald Trump, but I’m going to work with our American pharmaceutical companies here in the United States and create the best.” There’s a way you could make this about the unity of America and coming in. I could still see him making that pitch, the October surprise, “I have a vaccine and it came from Russia.”
You set up a straw man that has some truth to it regarding voter fraud. The question is how much of truth does it have? Do different party members do things on both sides of the aisle to try to exclude or not exclude votes and things like that? Are there efforts that are being taken place in? That would be pretty easy to say yes. There are certain laws, not having enough machines, getting rid of machines, getting rid of mailboxes. What you’re doing is you’re getting rid of mailboxes. It’s like, “How did somebody ever let that happen?” Somebody was told to pick up all these mailboxes, “You can’t vote by mail because you’re putting it in. That means you have to come to the post office and then we’re going to understaff them so they have no time to process it.”
All of a sudden, we’re dismantling the infrastructure and this is what deregulation does. It’s like, “We want to take it apart.” This is the 1980s business garage sale stuff. It’s like how this company is vested like, “Let’s break it apart and sell it into pieces. We can make a lot of money because we ruined everybody’s lives and the businesses aren’t viable anymore. We alluded to their pension fund.” These different messages are that, “I’ve got this handled. Here’s how I’m handling it.” Meanwhile, what’s going on is that there is not a strong narrative about how to work as a nation to live to the value of one person, one vote. Let’s suppose one of an October surprise could be, “I am going to eliminate the thing that I’ve been talking most about. I’m going to figure out how to deal. I have the answer. I have great people. I have great technology. I’m going to solve the voter fraud problem. Is there a problem or is it a problem problem? How big is it? What scale does it fit?”
The fact that maybe there isn’t much of a problem would make it an easy problem for him to solve. If he labels it and owns it that he solved it, that’s great. It hurts him if he doesn’t win the election if he solved voter fraud. If he wins the election legitimately, then he claims that Monday morning quarterback hero position of having solved it. If he loses, then he labels the system as tainted and broken. The Democrats killed it and we can’t trust it. He needs to be able to cast doubt on the voter system if he loses.
“What is my winning narrative so that I am showing confidence and strength?” That confidence and strength is the piece of rice I keep moving across. Every message that he does is not about truth. It’s about moving the rice over to the other side of the scale. Every time we’re on this, you take the bait. You go, “Yeah, but how about the fact?” I’m like, “We’re not moving facts here. It doesn’t matter.” You and I can consistently notice the message is the rice that’s moved onto one side of the scale. The vote and the race tighten because it’s the person moving the rice messages over to the type of skill to tilt the person’s belief structure in the direction they want. That becomes interesting or vibrant.
The message moves some people of that middle third over to his camp to vote for him. The facts don’t pull them back.
All the voter needs to do to get their vote is to acknowledge one thing that political leader did for them. Even if they did ten things that were against them, they will anchor on the one thing. It’s important when you take a look at communication, beliefs and biases is that if we look at the one thing that makes a big difference, it’s what valuable to me as a person, as a human being. What need is that meeting of mine? It meets my need for integrity or truth or trust, or it meets my need for support or fairness. If all I got to do is put 1 or 2 of those things and say, “At least he did this,” it’s the same thing with all the different candidates. We’re being very agnostic here. It’s like this person is voting towards the thing that it looks like this person is confident about this thing. Meanwhile, there might be entire wreckage that a thing has caused. Even to the person that believes there isn’t a wreckage piece to it. They’re not necessarily seeing the pros and cons.
The person that’s making the decision with the confidence, “I made my best effort. This is what I did for us. This is why we’re better off.” That’s why it doesn’t matter what party of what president goes out and does a speaking tour. There will be plenty of people in the stadium when the stadiums open up. There are plenty of people there to hear them speak because they’re listening for the reassuring and reinforcing of the message that they voted for, that they’re loyal to in the past. It’s very interesting and challenging. Could the October surprise be that Joe Biden comes on stage and he introduces all the former presidents and invites them to say a word to all the former presidents, all of them come up and say something? That takes that middle third. It doesn’t move the other third. The 35% is going to stay where it is. The 33% stays where it is. It takes that middle third and goes, “Wait a minute.” The ones that are closer to the other side, that brings it into the 49th percentile. It’s like how much does it creep over to the other side and to see what it looks like?
There’s another potential October surprise that has a different impact, not a conventional one. We’re hearing that Fox News has behind the scenes made an offer to Donald Trump to be the CEO of Fox News. Here’s the reality. We all know Donald Trump didn’t expect to be president in the first place. He’s very frustrated with the daily briefings and being a leader. He wants it done his way. He hasn’t grown into the job. I don’t think he wants to be there. If he gets to be the arbiter of what is fake news and what’s real news in his mind, he would probably enjoy that a whole lot more. He’d be in the limelight all the time again, but in a way that he can control it.
He buys out Rupert Murdoch. He becomes the CEO of Fox. He gives those messages for the way he would like the truth to be told, the way he would like the messages to be crafted and moved. He’s going to stay with the messages that work. He is a tester and an evaluator of his performances. He watches his stuff and sees what lands, what doesn’t land, what gets applause, what doesn’t get applause, what moves, what doesn’t move, how can I reinforce this, then he moves to the next message. Every human being communicates like they’re throwing spaghetti on the wall. You and I are throwing spaghetti on the wall in a different way. We like to meet the need for integrity or trust and bring our best belief structures forward. A lot of times, we don’t have all the full information and different pieces of information show up.Every human being needs an offering. Every human being needs a place to transition. Click To Tweet
Donald Trump’s next job, is it going to be the CEO of Fox News or does he go back to the life that he was? I’m not sure if it’s going to be quite as exciting as it was once was in that position. The people calling him to do things that are as engaged as The Apprentice or some of these other things in the future. There are opportunities, but every human being needs an off-ramp. Every human being needs a place to transition, “Here’s my identity here and here’s my identity over here.” Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are in the same spot this way. They’re either transitioning into this or they’re transitioning over there. Hillary Clinton didn’t think that for four years, she would be punching the clock at home being a grandma. She didn’t think that was going to be her job. She knew the other job was going to be her job because that was her career. That was what she built her resume around all the different things she did in those resume spots, a Senator in New York, Secretary of State.
When you think about it, the Fox News job offer for Donald Trump makes a lot of sense if you’re him. The Coronavirus is a curveball he got thrown that he never anticipated having to deal with. It took away all the wind in his sails of the strong economy. All these things that he would be riding much more easily to re-election. I could see him very easily saying, “That’s okay. Even though the election was rigged and I lost it, I don’t want it anyway. I’m going to go on and make a difference here at Fox News.” I love to see someone in the press corps asked him about the job offer. While he won’t confirm it, you know that his ego can’t stay away from the light. He’s probably going to say, “They should want me to be CEO. Everybody is saying I would be great at it.” It will meet his need for self-worth so much. It would be great if someone in the press corps asked him that question to confirm, “Is it true that you had been offered the CEO position at Fox News?”
Because of the relationship, “You have a strong relationship with all the different people over there. You’ve met with them, interviewed them, helped them with their careers. Here’s the next step for you. Are you going to take that step if for some reason you don’t win the election? For whatever reason, will you take that job?” The question is that will he either say, “No, that’s a rumor. I’m staying where I am,” or will his self-worth, respect and his ego say, “Yeah. I could easily do that job. I’m a very smart guy. I can do those kinds of things.”
It would be an interesting off-ramp for him to take language-wise because if he doesn’t want to be there, he now has his out. He has his respectful step. Even if he doesn’t get it, he still has his, “I’m going to fight the battle of fake news. The way to fight the battle fake news is to be in charge of real news. These are the real news people. I’m going to be on their side. They like me and they want me to be there with them. These are my colleagues. They all like me over there. I might as well work with people I like and provide leadership, wisdom, talking points to them and give them guidance on what the real news is.” It would be an interesting shift to take place. The press corps asking that question would be an important question because it’s like, “What are you going to do after? The polls are like this and you’re talking about voter fraud like this. If you don’t win, does this job offer seem interesting to you?” Let’s see if that’s the way he can keep his need for respect and make his transition in a way that’s graceful.
If a person doesn’t have a respectful transition to go to, they tend to get stuck on hanging on to things. That tends not to go so well because all things need to transition. All things need to change hands. It’s like what a difference. This is one way to create some ease and create some opportunity for the person’s message. We do have a messaging propaganda problem. Any message that comes out has to be faced and dealt with. Even a no response is solely a yes response. “No, I haven’t heard anything about that.” All of a sudden, it’s like, “Would you be interested?” His answer is, “I am committed to being the president of the United States.” I can never imagine him saying that.
I can’t imagine him saying that either because I don’t think his heart is there. He would much rather be on TV at Fox News or be in charge of it and help guide that ship. He would like that a whole lot more. I don’t think he’s disciplined enough to deny it, not talk about it and not speculate. He always says, “We’ll see what happens.” He always injects that uncertainty.
He does, and that makes it more enticing. It makes it more important instead of the straight turn down. A turndown, there’s a double-edged sword to it. It meets a need for truth, but it also dampens or eliminates dopamine. It’s the famous John McCain and the woman coming on the thing that says, “He’s a Muslim.” He’s like, “No, he’s not.” He’s meeting the need for truth, but it is dampening the belief structure that someone else’s faith, the enthusiasm that John McCain was going to save us from a Muslim.
If John McCain had not denied it and let it hang out there, not embraced it necessarily or perpetuated, he might have won that election. That was a big moment in that election. That was a surprise of unfortunately McCain’s own making that didn’t help him. I respect him because he had integrity. I respect him as an individual. I wish he were president instead of Donald Trump. Those are powerful moments in an election. If this story gets the light of day and somebody does asks President Donald Trump or they don’t ask him, somebody is going to need to ask Fox News leadership, “Is there any truth to it?” They’re going to have to make some statements here at some point.
They’re going to need to make a statement, “No, we didn’t offer him anything. There was no offer discussion.” Meanwhile, we don’t know if there’s any offer discussion going on. That’s where the uncertainty of the discussion goes on. Those are the things that start in our part of the grain of rice narrative about leadership is not committed. Once we get a sense that leadership is not committed, then all of a sudden, “Leadership is not committed,” can be an open narrative. It will be interesting. This is a communication show. Messaging about how certain messages affect our physiology and allow us to make decisions has some predictability to it. The uncertainty has to do with that people don’t know how to use the predictability. It’s like, “Is this an integrity issue or is this a fairness issue?” Those two things can be very different. It looks like we got some stuff to do here about this.
It will be very interesting as we go through September and into October to see what surprises do occur. As they do at the time, we’re going to want to talk about those in a very timely manner very quickly and have some discussions about them, how the messages were put out and then how you might counteract that message if you could or what the impact is. That will be very interesting to watch.
It will be the flooding of messaging to then the confusion where truth is to be found. That’s putting a lot of grains of rice around and not sure which one is the one that you need. Where is that point of data or information? How can we create a little bit of wisdom or a little bit of insight out of it? That is a significant part of the equation too. More to come on this, Tom. I’m looking forward to the next thing. We’ll have a lot of things to talk about next time even from the place of the wrap up of the Democratic convention. We can take a look at as who got messages of truth to stick and who didn’t. There are some messages that did stick, some didn’t and some were taking out of context. We can take a look at that too. That’s helpful.
Maybe also to look at some of the rebuttals to some of the messages because what we’ve seen is the president is not staying away from commenting on these things. He’s using his Twitter platform to try to rebut or make his own counter-message stick. We should take a peek at that too.
That allows us to help to see where the dopamine is moving and where the loyalty shifts and how a person’s bias gets activated and then captured. More to come. Tom, thanks a lot.
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