Dear American Press: Please Get This – Truth Will Always Outweigh Bullshit

It seems so damned elemental it shouldn’t need explaining: Truth and lies are entirely different things. Being made of reality and real stuff, the Truth always has heft. The Truth can be unbearably heavy at times.

Bullshit on the other hand — while it looks like it weighs a ton — weighs nothing. That’s what it’s made of: nothing or one of nothing’s derivatives.

It’s galling as hell to watch supposedly informed members of the news media (MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is on my TV screen as I tap this out) give bullshit weight it doesn’t deserve. Chris Matthews — having just listened to five minutes of solid truthful reporting — instantly presented the (easily) anticipated Trumpian defense: bullshit.

But, Chris reported the bullshit as if it “could” have weight. What if? He false equivalenced five minutes of actual reporting with fifteen seconds of nonsense. Ummmmm, clean up on aisles three through infinity!

What makes it worse is, if you took Chris off set and shot the shit with him, he’d be the first to tell you (I sure hope) what a guilty traitor Trump is! Backstage, when no one’s worried about pissing off the Boss, you know a lot more nitty makes it into the gritty. On air, you have to double and triple source everything to pass muster. Off air — you heard what you heard.

Trust me — everyone’s “smarter” backstage. They know everyone else’s “play”. They know everyone else has a play.

But, on his air, Chris consistently (as he did today) presented Truth and outright bullshit as having equal weight. Truth could be true but, hey — so could the bullshit. That must be why MSNBC is putting it on its air — because it’s true, right?

It IS that simple. Media works that quickly, that efficiently, that effectively. I’m grateful most media has stopped presenting climate scientists & climate deniers in a 50-50 shot as if both sides of THAT conversation weighed the same. Keep in mind — in the visual language, a screen divided exactly in half has two sides of equal value. That’s how visual vocabulary works.

When that happens, the news media creates a “trompe l’oeil” — a visual trick — that makes empty, valueless bullshit look like it’s a dead ringer for stone cold Truth. A more truthful visual representation of a climate scientist debating a climate science denier would be the scientist taking 99% of the TV screen (maybe even 100%) and the denier getting the rest. Their mic volume would reflect the same proportions.

In other words, we would never see or hear from climate deniers because their bullshit had been properly “weighted”.

Truth’s problem is it isn’t sexy. It just is. Usually, the only reason anyone ever talks about “The Truth” is because someone else is questioning it — or denying it.

It’s Time To Play “BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT”

The “Benefit Of The Doubt” Theme Song

Hi there, ladies ‘n germs — I’m your host Chuck Todd (excuse me while I roll my eyes thoughtfully as if I was physically capable of having thoughts) —

— And welcome to another installment of “Benefit Of The Doubt — the game show where we give the benefit of the doubt to folks who we probably shouldn’t ought to give it to. But, hey — that’s what I think journalism is cos otherwise, I’d have to do research and prep for interviews! Did I say “Welcome to Benefit Of The Doubt yet? I can’t remember — I get so easily distracted.

Tonight’s panel are, first, my co-worker over at NBC News, Chris Matthews —

Chris — say something to the folks!

CHRIS: I miss Bobby Kennedy.

[While Chuck rolls his eyes thoughtfully] CHUCK: Do you think… What I mean is… What if… Is it possible that Sirhan Sirhan was aiming at someone else that night in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen?

CHRIS: No. Sirhan was Palestinian. He said he hated Bobby’s position regarding Israel. It wasn’t really a question of— Now, wait a minute, Chuck — were you playing the game without saying?

CHUCK: Guilty! I bet if I hadn’t spent the whole time rolling my eyes thoughtfully, you’d have never caught me.

CHRIS: It’s true… Umm… could ya stop now, Chuck — it’s starting to weird me out.

CHUCK: I’ll try, but — now I’m just trying to see if my bangs are straight… I wish they hadn’t left those pruning shears on my makeup table… Our other panelist tonight is CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF: Hi, everyone. I just want everyone to know that the look on my face isn’t because I’m thinking about anything, I’m doing math — I’m figuring out how long much longer I can hold onto the fart now in the chamber. Not much longer to judge from my expression, right?

CHUCK: Thanks for the heads up, Wolf. I’ll just move my chair way over here. [As Chuck moves his chair] Our first guest tonight is Climate Change.

[Polite applause as Climate Change enters and takes the seat next to Chuck’s.]

CHUCK: Welcome, Climate Change! You’re really in demand right now. I feel like we were lucky to get you as a guest.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Well, I am trying to get around — what with the book coming out and–

CHUCK: What– wait– what? You have a book coming out? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

CLIMATE CHANGE: Probably cos you can’t read.

[Chuck flashes angrily] CHUCK: What? I can read just fine. Don’t blame me cos I bore easily. Wait — are my bangs straight?

CHRIS: Please, Chuck, I’m begging ya — stop rolling your eyes! In two seconds I’m going to start hurling last year’s St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef and cabbage. And that disagreed with me then.

WOLF: I bet the gas was intense.

CHRIS: You know it was.

CHUCK: So, Climate Change — We know… what I mean is…

CHRIS: Chuck — stop rolling your eyes–

CHUCK: I’m trying, Chris, I swear it but it’s gone a little autonomic on me. I’m not that in control of it–

CHRIS: Well, I’m not that in control of what I’m about to puke up either.

WOLF: Please stop saying “puke”, it gives me gas.

[Meanwhile, Chuck has continued rolling his eyes]. CHUCK: Are my bangs…? Is it… Would you say…What if the climate deniers are on to something?

[Everyone stops to stare at Chuck]. CHUCK: What?

WOLF: Are you saying climate change isn’t real?

And… SCENE!

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.

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.