Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Cannoneer links to a thorough blog post at the Jawa Report on the link between big PR and the "grassroots" left. 

The most interesting thing for me was the written response from the guy -- Mr Winner -- who posted a youtube video critical of Sarah Palin. Here is his response in full: 

September 22, 2008

1:30 pm PDT

Statement of Ethan Winner

The following is in response to questions I have received regarding the post on the Jawa Report website.

I produced and posted on the Internet the video entitled “Sarah Palin: A Heartbeat Away.”

The idea for the video was mine. No one paid me to produce it. The only out-of-pocket cost will be the fee for the voice-over narrator, which I will pay personally when I receive an invoice. Contrary to the allegation in the Jawa Report, the voice-over artist has never done any work for the Obama campaign. I retained her through a talent agency based solely on the quality of her voice.

Neither the Obama campaign nor any independent political action committee has had a connection with the making and/or posting of this video. Just like the thousands of Americans who have posted videos on the Internet regarding the current Presidential campaign, I produced this video as an expression of my right to free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

I believe the American people have a right and a need to know information about candidates for political office and their views. I made this video because I think it is important for the public to be aware of the association between Sarah and Todd Palin and the Alaskan Independence Party. The New York Times has reported that the Alaskan Independence Party website describes the party as seeking, in the words of the party, “a range of solutions to the conflicts between federal and local authority,” including “advocacy for state’s rights, through a return to territorial status, all the way to complete independence and nationhood status for Alaska.”

While a number of media outlets have said that reports that Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party may have been erroneous, her attendance at the party’s 1994 convention, her video speech to the 2008 convention and her husband’s membership in the Alaskan Independence Party have not been called into question.

Some people have asked why I have pulled the video from the Internet. The reason is simple. Following the posting of personal information about me by the Jawa Report, my family began to receive threatening and abusive phone calls and emails.

Typically PR and communication hacks have had training, at sometime, in speech writing and rhetoric. This letter is a good, short example of rhetoric.

Rather than look at the arrangement of this composition like I did in the Machiavelli post, let us narrow the view and look at the persuasive appeals this letter makes. 

Typically rhetoric makes three appeals:

  1. Ethos - appeal to character
  2. Logos - appeal to reason
  3. Pathos - appeal to emotion

They are generally in this order with the meat of the rhetorical piece being the appeal to logos. 

A writer, like Mr. Winner here, will open with an appeal to his character. He is trying to appear credible and remove any prejudices you might have against him. In this case he fully admits to have producing the video. He also then admits to having paid someone to do the voice-over. Honesty like this is disarming. With that out of the way he moves into the main body of a rhetorical work: appeal to reason. 

Look at the way Mr Winner moves from refuting the idea that the Obama campaign has anything to do with his video to two quick fallacies in a row. He makes:

  • An appeal to popular opinion, e.g: "... thousands of Americans who have posted videos."
  • An appeal to authority, e.g.: "... guaranteed by the U.S. constitution." 

The last two paragraphs are more of the same, but much more factually-based argument. The last two paragraphs are interesting as well, as Mr Winner is trying to control the issue. He moves from demonstrative style issue control: blaming Palin, while the audience is expected to praise what Mr Winner has done (and his intended audience isn't readers of Malkin and Jawa report). How would he go about bringing about praise? By also mixing in deliberative style issue control with the demonstrative oratory. This is done by writing about what choices are good for a certain group. Notice on two occasions he says the following:

  • "I believe the American people have a right and a need to know ..."
  • "... I think it is important for the public to ..."

The finish is an appeal to emotion. It hopes to get you emotional about something. Either us versus them. Or to leave you with a 'little something'. In this case he opens up with why he pulled the video (dragging the audience in ...) and KAPOW ... threats to his family. 

Now, maybe the threats really did occur, which in that case I don't agree with; nonetheless, colour me sceptical. 


G said...

Well it appears blogger is still a piece of crap. I tried to change the font size and now the edit post screen has letters the size of my entire monitor. I shall leave this post as it is.

Jay@Soob said...

This is what, inductive reasoning on the part of Mr. Winner? It's nonsense. The idea that even if Palin and her husband belonged to such a group they would or could propagate it's message and intentions to any discernable degree is ridiculous.

An aside, if your using firefox try the "copy as text" add on.

GW said...

Great post, font size notwithstanding.

Ymarsakar said...

A lot of this propaganda art stuff is similar to magician tricks with sleight of hand and distraction.

You aim to create an illusion that is perceived as reality by the human mind. Seeing is believing, after all.

Ymarsakar said...

To most people, they only perceive one part of reality, the outer layer of reality. Propagandists perceive further into reality if only because they are the ones setting up outer onion layers of illusion. Everyone can be fooled, but it is easier to know what the con game is when you are the one running the game and its rules.

Also, most people seem to think deception is solely about lies. A magician trick is no more a lie than a surprise birthday party. Both have substance and reality, but the reality of things are often layered like an onion. Lies only occupy one layer of the onion. Misdirection, manipulation, and deception compromise other major portions. Lack of knowledge, ignorance, and sheer lack of insight occupies probably the majority.