Dear CNN & MSNBC: Your Problem Is Simple — You Suck At FRAMING

How you tell a story is almost as important as the story itself.

The moment you fade in on your narrative, you frame it. You establish a point of view — even if its strict neutrality. And strict neutrality is rarely as neutral as it thinks it is. That, too, is a framing problem.

If you report a lie — without framing it as a lie — it’s perceived as the truth. When you sit a climate scientist next to a climate denier on a set and shoot them 50-50, you’re framing their conversation as a 50-50 — literally. The visual language says these two points of view are being represented on the screen in their proportional likelihood of truthfulness. At 50-50 — to judge by the framing — either could be right.

Quick side note, CNN & MSNBC — A more truthful, accurate screen representation would have the climate scientist occupying 99% of the screen and the denier getting roughly 1% — not because what he’s saying is 1% valid but for shits n giggles. I want to experience a climate denier shouting (at 1% of the audio mix too) into the wind as the wind devours them. See? I just framed a cruel streak in myself. I like to mock stupid people. And I think people who frame things badly are stupid.

Every time the Main Stream Media tell a story that’s framed incorrectly, they lead us further astray — and further down the authoritarian rabbit hole. The whole point of making the Truth hard to know starts with FRAMING IT THAT WAY. By “framing” the Truth as “hard to know”, those unwilling to question that assertion will now accept as truth that the Truth is beyond them. And all it took to get there was dishonest framing.

If you frame abortion as “baby-killing”, you’re framing it dishonestly. If you frame hunting as “sport”, you’re framing it dishonestly (you’re murdering animals for fun — admit it — the animal would tell you that’s what’s happening). If you frame

The fact that Donald Trump became president and is still president is a failure of framing. The CORRECT framing of Donald Trump was obvious the moment he rode down that escalator in that whorehouse of a building of his and announced that Mexicans are rapists. Trump framed himself as a racist. A few days later we heard him frame himself as a rapist, too, whose wealth apparently gave him permission to sexually assault women at will. Donald Trump framed himself as a criminal every time he bankrupted a casino. Everyone with a brain knew he’d been laundering money for the Russian mob. The proper frame for Donald Trump has always been a “thing”.

And yet… Our news media framed Trump differently. They stuck racism and bigotry and rapey behavior IN the frame (in a corner) but they didn’t use them to FRAME the way THEY were “telling” Donald Trump. In spite of the honest way Trump himself was framing himself, the media insisted on framing Trump as the imaginary character that had been created for him by Mark Burnett so as to make “The Apprentice” make sense.

As we now know, The Art Of The Deal wasn’t just utter bullshit, it was the utterest bullshit. While Trump was putting his name on Tony Schwartz’s writing, he was on his way to losing 1.7 billion dollars. A more honest framing of the book would have been The Art Of Near Total Failure.

I just wrote the last installment of a series called Blunt Truths for Weedmaps news — about the true story of cannabis prohibition. Yes — it was racism start to finish. But the way Harry Anslinger — America’s first Commissioner of Narcotics used racism to frame cannabis was a stroke of dark public relations genius that’s still haunting us. Even as cannabis is legalized, it’s still drenched in the bullshit mythology Anslinger created for it. We still frame cannabis from the point of view of a racist lie.

Every time a Hallie Jackson or an Alex Witt or a Chris Matthews goes to commercial with a tease that asks “Was the FBI SPYING on the Trump Campaign?” they’re literally FRAMING the story from THE CRIMINAL’S POINT OF VIEW. Think about it. The FBI wasn’t spying, they were carrying out a legitimate counter-intelligence investigation because good, solid evidence fairly shouted that Trump was owned by the Russians — but MSNBC is still FRAMING the story as SPYING because that’s what the subject of the investigation — the guy owned by the Russians — calls it.

It’s ludicrous. It happens every damned day.

Terrible framing is why so many of us remain in a constant stage of agita. We expect the Fourth Estate — as part of its Constitutionally mandated responsibility — to be the final check on power. To do that, they need to acknowledge that indeed that IS their responsibility.

I bet if they framed it that way to themselves, they’d get better at their jobs immediately.

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Dear CNN & MSNBC: Your Problem Is Simple — You Suck At FRAMING

How you tell a story is almost as important as the story itself.

The moment you fade in on your narrative, you frame it. You establish a point of view — even if its strict neutrality. And strict neutrality is rarely as neutral as it thinks it is. That, too, is a framing problem.

If you report a lie — without framing it as a lie — it’s perceived as the truth. When you sit a climate scientist next to a climate denier on a set and shoot them 50-50, you’re framing their conversation as a 50-50 — literally. The visual language says these two points of view are being represented on the screen in their proportional likelihood of truthfulness. At 50-50 — to judge by the framing — either could be right.

Quick side note, CNN & MSNBC — A more truthful, accurate screen representation would have the climate scientist occupying 99% of the screen and the denier getting roughly 1% — not because what he’s saying is 1% valid but for shits n giggles. I want to experience a climate denier shouting (at 1% of the audio mix too) into the wind as the wind devours them. See? I just framed a cruel streak in myself. I like to mock stupid people. And I think people who frame things badly are stupid.

Every time the Main Stream Media tell a story that’s framed incorrectly, they lead us further astray — and further down the authoritarian rabbit hole. The whole point of making the Truth hard to know starts with FRAMING IT THAT WAY. By “framing” the Truth as “hard to know”, those unwilling to question that assertion will now accept as truth that the Truth is beyond them. And all it took to get there was dishonest framing.

If you frame abortion as “baby-killing”, you’re framing it dishonestly. If you frame hunting as “sport”, you’re framing it dishonestly (you’re murdering animals for fun — admit it — the animal would tell you that’s what’s happening). If you frame

The fact that Donald Trump became president and is still president is a failure of framing. The CORRECT framing of Donald Trump was obvious the moment he rode down that escalator in that whorehouse of a building of his and announced that Mexicans are rapists. Trump framed himself as a racist. A few days later we heard him frame himself as a rapist, too, whose wealth apparently gave him permission to sexually assault women at will. Donald Trump framed himself as a criminal every time he bankrupted a casino. Everyone with a brain knew he’d been laundering money for the Russian mob. The proper frame for Donald Trump has always been a “thing”.

And yet… Our news media framed Trump differently. They stuck racism and bigotry and rapey behavior IN the frame (in a corner) but they didn’t use them to FRAME the way THEY were “telling” Donald Trump. In spite of the honest way Trump himself was framing himself, the media insisted on framing Trump as the imaginary character that had been created for him by Mark Burnett so as to make “The Apprentice” make sense.

As we now know, The Art Of The Deal wasn’t just utter bullshit, it was the utterest bullshit. While Trump was putting his name on Tony Schwartz’s writing, he was on his way to losing 1.7 billion dollars. A more honest framing of the book would have been The Art Of Near Total Failure.

I just wrote the last installment of a series called Blunt Truths for Weedmaps news — about the true story of cannabis prohibition. Yes — it was racism start to finish. But the way Harry Anslinger — America’s first Commissioner of Narcotics used racism to frame cannabis was a stroke of dark public relations genius that’s still haunting us. Even as cannabis is legalized, it’s still drenched in the bullshit mythology Anslinger created for it. We still frame cannabis from the point of view of a racist lie.

Every time a Hallie Jackson or an Alex Witt or a Chris Matthews goes to commercial with a tease that asks “Was the FBI SPYING on the Trump Campaign?” they’re literally FRAMING the story from THE CRIMINAL’S POINT OF VIEW. Think about it. The FBI wasn’t spying, they were carrying out a legitimate counter-intelligence investigation because good, solid evidence fairly shouted that Trump was owned by the Russians — but MSNBC is still FRAMING the story as SPYING because that’s what the subject of the investigation — the guy owned by the Russians — calls it.

It’s ludicrous. It happens every damned day.

Terrible framing is why so many of us remain in a constant stage of agita. We expect the Fourth Estate — as part of its Constitutionally mandated responsibility — to be the final check on power. To do that, they need to acknowledge that indeed that IS their responsibility.

I bet if they framed it that way to themselves, they’d get better at their jobs immediately.

Maya Angelou Had It SOOOOOO Right – When People Tell You Who They Are…

If you want me to be your friend — but, the fact is, you hate Jews on sight — I’m not seeing a future for our relationship regardless of how much you tell me MY being Jewish isn’t an issue for you. That’s not the point, right? You’re an anti-Semite. It’s who you are.

I feel the same way about Religionistas. If you tell me up front (and thanks for being honest) that the whole basis for your belief system — the foundational core of why you do what you do — is based on a fiction (in other words, you’ve bought into the story instead of its point) — then I’m not inclined to take ANYTHING you say seriously. Why would I?

If you honestly believe — and insist on its veracity — that a sky creature had reproductive sexual relations with a female “virgin” who then bore a man-god who, at the last second gets repurposed with dying for all of humanity’s sins (if that wasn’t his purpose from the start then what’s the issue with him dying — since that was his whole mission in the first place?) but rises from the dead to “prove” that by “following him” you, too, can live forever… see where I’m going? That’s a whole lot of preposterous to accept as real.

It’s Magical Thinking. Magical Thinking is great when you’re five and you’re trying to decide what soda to have with your hamburger. It doesn’t work as well when you’re an adult and you’re sending women to prison because you don’t understand even the basics of biology — because you prefer Magical Thinking to science.

When you turn around then and tell us that you don’t believe in climate change — we get the context.

The same applies to Trump supporters. Yeah, yeah — bamboozlement. Lots and lots of bamboozlement — Russian propaganda and Trumpian pomposity — gobbled up and shit back at us by our own News Media. But lots of people got it. Lots of people saw this from the outset for what it was — a treasonous coup d’etat.

Donald Trump has never been shy about telling us who he is. The onus is on us for refusing to listen to him. All those people who thought Trump would “pivot”? Magical Thinking. All those people who still think Trump is a great potus? The very worst kind of Magical Thinking — Authoritarian Magical Thinking.

Anyone still saying they’d vote for Trump? They’re telling us something. Anyone not disgusted to their neutrons & electrons by Trump? They’re telling us something, too.

Let’s do ourselves a kindness — and believe them.

Wanna Know What America’s Problem REALLY Is? White Man BAMBOOZLEMENT Syndrome

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader — and traitor — Mitch McConnell got up on the Senate floor to give his “final thoughts” on The Mueller Report. Despite the fact that everyone in the whole world capable of reading English could see with their own eyes that Mitch was LYING about the Report’s conclusions, Mitch said — in his emphatic turtle voice — that the Mueller Report said what MITCH wanted it to say — nothing to see here, everyone can go home now — “case closed”.

Then — as they always do — members of the American Mainstream News Media dutifully played back Mitch’s words — or repeated them — without pointing out — there and then — that what Mitch had said was contradicted BY THE FACTS. By the very report itself.

This toxic game of telephone only works like this because we, as a culture, have been “seduced” — or bamboozled — into believing that what Mitch McConnell said was true – even though it wasn’t. And the REASON we’re supposed to accept that what Mitch said was true is because Mitch is WHITE.

If Mitch were female, the media would have been all over Mitch like he was Elizabeth Warren maybe not being that little bit of Cherokee she grew up believing (and loving) that she was. If Mitch were black or brown or Asian or anything other than an old white guy — getting up and LYING so outrageously, so blatantly — so disrespectfully — would have earned Mitch some very quick, very stiff retribution.

We have a disease. A bad one: White Bamboozlement Syndrome. We will accept as true — or false but acceptably true — whatever white Christian men tell us. They don’t even have to really be Christian. They just have to SAY that they’re “Christian” — and the bamboozlement — that they “are” Christian — does the rest. Even “real Christians” (whatever that is) will go along and say, “Yeah — the fake Christian’s a ‘real’ Christian now”. They’re willing even to bamboozle themselves.

That’s some powerful stuff.

But White Bamboozlement Syndrome could describe an awful lot of America’s history. Not outlawing SLAVERY at the Republic’s start, say. That was another case of White Men Bamboozling themselves and everyone else into believing that slavery could co-exist with and inside a democracy. Why, you’d have to be a white guy — a white Christian guy — to believe that.

How ironic. White Christian culture — as opposed to anything spiritual connected to the teachings of a character named Jesus — is based on a story woven almost completely from whole cloth that even a mildly skeptical mind could poke giant holes in. But — because white Christian men say “Believe It”, people are supposed to let go of all critical thinking and “buy”.

Bamboozlement complete.

Again — Jesus preached “Do Unto Others”. He didn’t preach ooga-booga. Yes, he was a theist teaching a more direct connection to the Father Figure, but he was trying to minimize all the ooga-booga the temple (the church) was throwing in the follower’s way. To Jesus’ credit — even atheists need to be fair — he wasn’t leaning on his capacity to bamboozle people. He was saying DO AS I AM TRYING TO DO. Not — per bamboozlement’s playbook — “Do what I say (but know damned well I would NEVER be so stupid as to do it — like YOU ARE)”…

Be honest — when you watch or listen to a Jerry Falwell Jr or a Franklin Graham — doesn’t your Bamboozlement Radar suddenly go off? When these two “men of faith” stick their heads so far up Donald Trump’s ass you can see their faces when he smiles — don’t ya kinda think, “Hold on, now — this smells an awful lot like Grade A Primo Bullshit”. Even ooga-booga has its limits, logically.

America is deep in the vice-like grip of its White Christian Money Lords. Having seen the future — they lose power and influence because the demographics are running hard against them — they have thrown down every last bit of White Bamboozlement Syndrome super power they can muster. They have insisted on telling a story — that Donald Trump won an election — that simply is not true.

The Republican Party is openly insisting that we NOT investigate all the terrible facts that we already know about how exactly Trump and the GOP “won” that 2016 election. They want us to simply ACCEPT that they won fairly & squarely.

Stop thinking analytically, they say. Believe what we’re telling you. Trust us — we’re White Christian Men.

We’d never bamboozle you…

Can We Be Honest? “Conservative Thinking” Is An Oxymoron

I’m a proud Progressive. I prefer the term “progressive” to “liberal” because the word liberal has gone through too many gyrations over time to be effective as an accurate descriptor. “I’m a liberal” could mean a whole lot of things that “I’m actually not”.

Progressives, as the name implies, want to progress. We want to see people — as a society — progress. We want each individual person to progress — to feel like their lives are constantly improving — as are the lives of their children and grandchildren going forward. There’s a caveat there — progressives build into their calculus the fact that change is a constant. In order to progress successfully, one has to accept as a fact that things will change. People will change. Circumstances will change.

Change is a Fact Of Life.

Progressives say “Okay — change is a thing — let’s deal with it like big boys & girls, accommodate where we must but convert to our advantage in every other way”.

Conservatives also do what their name implies. They want to conserve — what is (if only because they failed in this instance to conserve WHAT WAS and so have no choice but to accept it) but really — they want to conserve WHAT WAS. Or how they “remember” what was. How they idealized “what was” in reality.

There’s a reason conservatives tend to be more institutionally religious — more affiliated with their church than the spiritual side of their faith. They like the rules and regs; doing unto others — that’s a little too hippie-dippy for them. You know — “progressive”. They prefer the concrete of Commandments. Don’t Do This, Do That — Or Else.

Conservatives want to hold tight to a thing that makes them feel safe and secure — a world where men were men and women (and people of color, non-Christians, LGBQT people) knew their place. They see the antebellum south as a kind of heaven on earth. They think white people ARE America. And that’s the America they want to conserve.

Unfortunately, that America is entirely a figment of their imagination. Yes, white people have always held sway. But “white people” have never been the engine that drives the remarkable (but flawed) experiment in self-government that is the United States of America. One of our flaws is that white people have held too much sway. The engine — the thing we call “American Exceptionalism” is diversity. It’s the flow of people from every other country in the world into this one — e pluribus unum — from many, one — that’s the nature of American Exceptionalism.

It’s the opposite of what conservatives “think”. That’s just it — conservatives, by their nature, don’t have to “think”. When everything you do is motivated by your knee jerking lizard brain, you’re not thinking — ever. You’re reacting in real time to a fear-fueled twitch instinct. Everything you do is colored by it. Your whole goal in life is to get the toothpaste back into the tube.

As we all know — that’s never going to happen.

This is why conservatives stopped playing by the rules the rest of us play by. It was leading them nowhere — except to extinction — and they know it. That’s why Mitch McConnell — at the behest of conservative money (the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adelstein) — refused We The People Merrick Garland (chosen by the POTUS we elected) — then conspired with Russia to literally STEAL election 2016 in order to shove conservative judges into every open judicial seat — seats they’d been KEEPING open for this very purpose.

Make no mistake — what Mitch McConnell did and is still doing — is a deliberate soft coup d’etat. Mitch is a traitor (not a revelation). Mitch is the conservative errand boy, doing what he’s told to do. Reminder — it’s not just conservative money holding Mitch’s nuts in their hand — it’s Vladimir Putin, too. Mitch has taken gobs (as in MILLIONS) of Russian money into his PAC. In the abstract — perfectly legal. But in the midst of a counter-intelligence operation looking directly at Russian influence on American politicians and an American election? NOT so innocent or even legal perhaps). But I digress…

Mitch isn’t “thinking”. He’s reacting. He’s trying to drag us back to a time and place in the past that never was — not because he’s thinking how good it will be for us if only we’d listen to him — but because he’s stuck in the past like a mastodon stuck in tar — sinking slowly — grabbing desperately at everything around it.

They can’t save the mastodon. They can only get sucked into the tar with it. Welcome to “conservative thinking”.

Can We Be Honest? “Conservative Thinking” Is An Oxymoron

I’m a proud Progressive. I prefer the term “progressive” to “liberal” because the word liberal has gone through too many gyrations over time to be effective as an accurate descriptor. “I’m a liberal” could mean a whole lot of things that “I’m actually not”.

Progressives, as the name implies, want to progress. We want to see people — as a society — progress. We want each individual person to progress — to feel like their lives are constantly improving — as are the lives of their children and grandchildren going forward. There’s a caveat there — progressives build into their calculus the fact that change is a constant. In order to progress successfully, one has to accept as a fact that things will change. People will change. Circumstances will change.

Change is a Fact Of Life.

Progressives say “Okay — change is a thing — let’s deal with it like big boys & girls, accommodate where we must but convert to our advantage in every other way”.

Conservatives also do what their name implies. They want to conserve — what is (if only because they failed in this instance to conserve WHAT WAS and so have no choice but to accept it) but really — they want to conserve WHAT WAS. Or how they “remember” what was. How they idealized “what was” in reality.

There’s a reason conservatives tend to be more institutionally religious — more affiliated with their church than the spiritual side of their faith. They like the rules and regs; doing unto others — that’s a little too hippie-dippy for them. You know — “progressive”.

Conservatives want to hold tight to a thing that makes them feel safe and secure — a world where men were men and women (and people of color, non-Christians, LGBQT people) knew their place. They see the antebellum south as a kind of heaven on earth. They think white people ARE America. And that’s the America they want to conserve.

Unfortunately, that America is entirely a figment of their imagination. Yes, white people have always held sway. But “white people” have never been the engine that drives the remarkable (but flawed) experiment in self-government that is the United States of America. One of our flaws is that white people have held too much sway. The engine — the thing we call “American Exceptionalism” is diversity. It’s the flow of people from every other country in the world into this one — e pluribus unum — from many, one — that’s the nature of American Exceptionalism.

It’s the opposite of what conservatives “think”. That’s just it — conservatives, by their nature, don’t have to “think”. When everything you do is motivated by your knee jerking lizard brain, you’re not thinking — ever. You’re reacting in real time to a fear-fueled twitch instinct. Everything you do is colored by it. Your whole goal in life is to get the toothpaste back into the tube.

As we all know — that’s never going to happen.

This is why conservatives stopped playing by the rules the rest of us play by. It was leading them nowhere — except to extinction — and they know it. That’s why Mitch McConnell — at the behest of conservative money (the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adelstein) — refused We The People Merrick Garland (chosen by the POTUS we elected) — then conspired with Russia to literally STEAL election 2016 in order to shove conservative judges into every open judicial seat — seats they’d been KEEPING open for this very purpose.

Make no mistake — what Mitch McConnell did and is still doing — is a deliberate soft coup d’etat. Mitch is a traitor (not a revelation). Mitch is the conservative errand boy, doing what he’s told to do. Reminder — it’s not just conservative money holding Mitch’s nuts in their hand — it’s Vladimir Putin, too. Mitch has taken gobs (as in MILLIONS) of Russian money into his PAC. In the abstract — perfectly legal. But in the midst of a counter-intelligence operation looking directly at Russian influence on American politicians and an American election? NOT so innocent or even legal perhaps). But I digress…

Mitch isn’t “thinking”. He’s reacting. He’s trying to drag us back to a time and place in the past that never was — not because he’s thinking how good it will be for us if only we’d listen to him — but because he’s stuck in the past like a mastodon stuck in tar — sinking slowly — grabbing desperately at everything around it.

They can’t save the mastodon. They can only get sucked into the tar with it. Welcome to “conservative thinking”.

Wanna Know What America’s Problem REALLY Is? White Man BAMBOOZLEMENT Syndrome

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader — and traitor — Mitch McConnell got up on the Senate floor to give his “final thoughts” on The Mueller Report. Despite the fact that everyone in the whole world capable of reading English could see with their own eyes that Mitch was LYING about the Report’s conclusions, Mitch said — in his emphatic turtle voice — that the Mueller Report said what MITCH wanted it to say — nothing to see here, everyone can go home now — “case closed”.

Then — as they always do — members of the American Mainstream News Media dutifully played back Mitch’s words — or repeated them — without pointing out — there and then — that what Mitch had said was contradicted BY THE FACTS. By the very report itself.

This toxic game of telephone only works like this because we, as a culture, have been “seduced” — or bamboozled — into believing that what Mitch McConnell said was true – even though it wasn’t. And the REASON we’re supposed to accept that what Mitch said was true is because Mitch is WHITE.

If Mitch were female, the media would have been all over Mitch like he was Elizabeth Warren maybe not being that little bit of Cherokee she grew up believing (and loving) that she was. If Mitch were black or brown or Asian or anything other than an old white guy — getting up and LYING so outrageously, so blatantly — so disrespectfully — would have earned Mitch some very quick, very stiff retribution.

We have a disease. A bad one: White Bamboozlement Syndrome. We will accept as true — or false but acceptably true — whatever white Christian men tell us. They don’t even have to really be Christian. They just have to SAY that they’re “Christian” — and the bamboozlement — that they “are” Christian — does the rest. Even “real Christians” (whatever that is) will go along and say, “Yeah — the fake Christian’s a ‘real’ Christian now”. They’re willing even to bamboozle themselves.

That’s some powerful stuff.

But White Bamboozlement Syndrome could describe an awful lot of America’s history. Not outlawing SLAVERY at the Republic’s start, say. That was another case of White Men Bamboozling themselves and everyone else into believing that slavery could co-exist with and inside a democracy. Why, you’d have to be a white guy — a white Christian guy — to believe that.

How ironic. White Christian culture — as opposed to anything spiritual connected to the teachings of a character named Jesus — is based on a story woven almost completely from whole cloth that even a mildly skeptical mind could poke giant holes in. But — because white Christian men say “Believe It”, people are supposed to let go of all critical thinking and “buy”.

Bamboozlement complete.

Again — Jesus preached “Do Unto Others”. He didn’t preach ooga-booga. Yes, he was a theist teaching a more direct connection to the Father Figure, but he was trying to minimize all the ooga-booga the temple (the church) was throwing in the follower’s way. To Jesus’ credit — even atheists need to be fair — he wasn’t leaning on his capacity to bamboozle people. He was saying DO AS I AM TRYING TO DO. Not — per bamboozlement’s playbook — “Do what I say (but know damned well I would NEVER be so stupid as to do it — like YOU ARE)”…

Be honest — when you watch or listen to a Jerry Falwell Jr or a Franklin Graham — doesn’t your Bamboozlement Radar suddenly go off? When these two “men of faith” stick their heads so far up Donald Trump’s ass you can see their faces when he smiles — don’t ya kinda think, “Hold on, now — this smells an awful lot like Grade A Primo Bullshit”. Even ooga-booga has its limits, logically.

America is deep in the vice-like grip of its White Christian Money Lords. Having seen the future — they lose power and influence because the demographics are running hard against them — they have thrown down every last bit of White Bamboozlement Syndrome super power they can muster. They have insisted on telling a story — that Donald Trump won an election — that simply is not true.

The Republican Party is openly insisting that we NOT investigate all the terrible facts that we already know about how exactly Trump and the GOP “won” that 2016 election. They want us to simply ACCEPT that they won fairly & squarely.

Stop thinking analytically, they say. Believe what we’re telling you. Trust us — we’re White Christian Men.

We’d never bamboozle you…