Franken-Gate

In case you’re interested in such things, here is a fantastic example of dishonest political messaging, disguised as reporting.  First, admittedly, the opinion writer Hugh Hewitt, has posted this formulaic piece of nonsense in the Opinion section of the Washington Post.  Discussing opinions in an opinion section is entirely fair game.  The dishonest aspect of the formula that Hewitt uses here involves pushing emotional buttons for his readers rather than relating facts to support his assertions.  Also, admittedly, opinion pieces do not need to include facts.  An opinion can be constructed entirely without them.  The dishonest aspect of this piece, in my opinion, gives the appearance of using facts, while using none.  

First, Hewitt has assembled a collection of emotional triggers.  Those triggers start with the first word of the first sentence.  And ended with the last word of the first sentence.  The last word, a recent, and controversial invention of President Trump, is the subject of the column.  The word, a cobbling together of Trump’s predecessor in office, and a common suffix for scandals in the US since Watergate, is the newly invented term.  Trump trotted out his rhetorical Frankenstein last week in a press conference in the Rose Garden.  When asked by a reporter what his term meant, essentially to give it life, Trump played mad scientist and declared that, it’s alive…as Dr. Frankenstein once had about his monster.  Trump actually said, “you know what it means”, without actually saying what it means.  

Hewitt does the same thing.  His title names the monster.  The monster lays there on the slab for all to see, but Hewitt never demonstrates to you the signs of life.  He only shows you the body of the monster.  He has all of the trappings of the mad scientist’s laboratory of rhetoric to grab your attention.  He has various pieces of machinery assembled around the body of the monster to give the impression of purpose, and to distract you from the fact that the monster’s body never moves.  

Hewitt starts his piece with “Al Sharpton”.  That’s a huge, fancy dial to make you wonder.  Al Sharpton actually has nothing to do with whether or not the monster will move, but there he is anyway.  The eyes widen on the reader.  In the next sentence, Hewitt says, “the intentional interference with the transition of power…”.  He never actually says that Trump’s predecessor interfered in the “peaceful transition…”, He doesn’t even state that this is a creation from the laboratory of his own mind.  He has structured it as a conversation about a conversation, and uses the out with the language, “the central charge of the many…”. He wants to say that this monstrous creation is not even his work, he is just relating to you a “charge” by “the many.”  

“Charge” and “many” are loaded terms which are emotional triggers which masquerade as evidence.  One of the problems with Trump trying to give life to this monstrous term is that there is no actual “crime”, as he claimed.  The reporter asked him, what is the crime?  Trump could only deflect.  Hewitt’s use of the term “central charge” is meant to give the impression that a legal analysis has occurred.  Of course, it has not.  

Hewitt goes on to essentially list several more emotional triggers.  In the third paragraph, Hewitt mentions “Zerlina Maxwell”, and “Sharpton” again, and completes the sentence with “racist talking point.”  Hewitt wants you to connect these two individuals by their race, without saying that they are of the same race.  Hewitt also mentions Trump’s rhetorical monster, also making the connection.  

Hewitt goes on to list numerous trigger words, never demonstrating how the rhetorical monster will have life.  Hewitt says “censorship”…a big one.  He claims that “the left” is attempting to censor Trump by asking to see life from his rhetorical monster.  The assertion is absurd, of course.  In no way can that be censorship.  I defy Hugh Hewitt, or anyone else to explain how it is.  Hewitt goes on.  He mentions “Joe McCarthy”, and “communists”…and if you’re paying any attention, these terms are far afield of the issue at hand.  

Hewitt begins to wrap up his baseless argument in this way.  It is worth noting his actual words.  {Rhetorical Monster} “…is here to stay because the abuse of power is already obvious and cannot be erased.  Only it’s (SIC) scale and scope need to be determined.”  Again, for those paying attention, more than the scale and scope need to be determined.  Its actual meaning needs to be determined.  Trump spoke of a crime without mentioning the elements of the crime.  The rhetorical monster has still not moved.  It has not even batted an eyelash.  

The level of Hewitt’s chutzpah reaches a crescendo in the paragraph after mentioning McCarthy.  He actually has the nerve to use the terms, “mountain of evidence”, “abuse of power”, “Trump Derangement Syndrome”, and…get this…”debating trick.”  I LOVE that last one.  I love it because Hewitt is practically dancing around his rhetorical laboratory now, with a monster created on top of Trump’s rhetorical monster, almost maniacally.  He seems to almost lose his orbit around reality with the use of the “cheap debating trick” bit because he says afterwards that, “they should know better, but I don’t know if they do or don’t”.  Now, a trick can’t be used accidentally.  A trick requires specific intent.  Without prior knowledge a trick is merely an accident.  It does not serve as a debating trick.  It only serves as yet another emotional trigger for his audience.  Now, that is a debating trick.  

If you make it all the way through Hewitt’s column, you will notice that the monster never once moved.  There was never a sign of life.  Trump declared it was alive, and then left the lab.  Hewitt and his peers are now trying to dance around and celebrate Trump’s creation.  Don’t be fooled.  It is just a bunch of stinking, rotting, dead flesh…rhetorically speaking, of course.  

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