Pushing A Narrative

Comrade   August 19, 2016   Comments Off on Pushing A Narrative

“A year ago, the presumed GOP front-runner was Jeb Bush, who is married to a Mexican and who was in favor of more illegal immigration. The GOP was prepared to concede that issue to the Democrats. Now we have the entire GOP electorate and a lot of Republicans galvanized against illegal immigration. We have Repeublican politicians talking about punishing sanctuary cities. That’s just one example. People feel more free to speak their minds. Trump has moved the Overton window right.”

– [NAME REDACTED] as quoted by Michelle Goldberg in Slate

What is your impression of this quote and the person who gave it? To me, it looks like a normal person who is against illegal immigration and pro-free speech who is glad that we’re fighting back against political correctness and able to talk about things that were previously taboo because of political correctness.

The Sell

So how do you take a seemingly innocuous quote like the one above and make it support such a harsh narrative? You add a primer. You bias the reader before you ever get to the evidence using the title and cherry picked background information.

Better Know an RNC White Supremacist: Matt Forney

Your occasional guide to the neo-fascists and white supremacists who have come to Cleveland to celebrate the ascension of Donald Trump.

CLEVELAND—This is far-right journalist and internet personality Matt Forney, whose work sits at the intersection of racism and men’s rights activism. “Let’s just be honest: everyone hates blacks,” he wrote last year, arguing that “whites are rapidly getting fed up with what is basically a hostile, parasitic population in their midst.” He is the author of essays including “Why Fat Girls Don’t Deserve to Be Loved” and “How to Beat Your Girlfriend or Wife and Get Away With It.” He is not married.

Michelle Goldberg

Now how do you feel about that quote?

“A year ago, the presumed GOP front-runner was Jeb Bush, who is married to a Mexican and who was in favor of more illegal immigration. The GOP was prepared to concede that issue to the Democrats. Now we have the entire GOP electorate and a lot of Republicans galvanized against illegal immigration. We have Repeublican politicians talking about punishing sanctuary cities. That’s just one example. People feel more free to speak their minds. Trump has moved the Overton window right.”

– Matt Forney as quoted by Michelle Goldberg in Slate

Now that you’re properly primed it seems a little more sinister, don’t you think?

When I met Matt at the RNC I actually hadn’t read any of his stuff. His name seemed familiar and that was about it. When I read the articles Michelle linked after having spent time with him I was a little surprised. Personally, I think he’s taking the piss a little in those articles to intentionally trigger people, but I can’t say for sure. I was only around him a couple of hours.

Pushing a Narrative or Reporting?

What I can say with reasonable certainty, is that he was sought out for a quote to support a story that could very well have already been written. You can tell from the quote used he didn’t say anything at the RNC that would support, much less prompt, a claim of white supremacy. Otherwise she would’ve used that instead.

I don’t really believe it was about newsworthy journalism either because if so the story would have been about me. What would have been more interesting and newsworthy?

  1. A single man who holds politically incorrect opinions about women and other races? Basically the poster-child stereotype of the alt-right. or
  2. The married man with the aforementioned alt-right celebrity who stays home with the kids in a stereotypical female role while his wife works in the stereotypical male role.

Seems reasonable to think someone associated with the alt-right movement who doesn’t fit the usual description would be more newsworthy. I mean Matt’s quote in this article didn’t add anything substantive to what people already know about him, and a quick google search shows many existing articles on how awful he is so that’s nothing new.

I will say Michelle was interested in me and asked a few questions, but I guess I didn’t say anything crazy enough to fit the narrative she had in mind. I know that’s what she wanted because when I asked her to refer to me as Conrad Turner if I was included in the article, she perked up and asked if I had taken the name from a book called “The Turner Diaries” and seemed a little disappointed when I didn’t even know what that was. (FYI now that I know what it is I have no interest in reading it)

Final Thoughts

Although it might appear like it this is a hit-piece on Michelle Goldberg and her article. She seemed like a nice lady who treated Matt with dignity and respect even though she obviously has a negative opinion of him. This article also isn’t a defense of Matt Forney either, those articles he wrote really seem to support Michelle’s claims.

No, this is to give insight into how pushing a narrative influences the way things are reported based on my knowledge of the interview and the resulting story in this particular case. I’m not even begrudging Michelle for pushing a narrative, I push narratives on this site. People just need to be aware journalists, bloggers, and columnists do that.

BTW if you missed the link for it above, hop on over to Slate HERE and see Michelle’s article in it’s full context, she’s also got her own website HERE if you like her work and want to see more. Matt Forney also has his own website HERE if you’d like to read what he has to say and make up your own mind about him. They’ve both written various books you’ll be able to read more about on their respective websites.