One of my favorite sites for really taking a deeper look at the way information is disseminated to us is The Frameshop by Jeffrey Feldman. He quickly cuts through the spin and finds the key little phrases upon which your attitude about an event or news story is subtly couched. Jeffrey's first book Framing the Debate looked at how presidential speeches electrified and engaged the electorate to stand behind the President's platform. I think it's safe to say that at least someone on Obama's staff has read that book, based on the response to his speeches.
Jeffrey's latest book, Outright Barbarous: How the Violent Language of the Right Poisons American Democracy, looks at something that we have had no little amount of experience with here at C&L. Who can forget Ann Coulter calling for John Murtha's murder, Bill O'Reilly telling San Francisco that al Qaeda could attack them, Dinesh D'Souza suggesting that liberal weakness encouraged al Qaeda to attack us on 9/11, Tucker Carlson bragging about beating up a man he thought was hitting on him in a bathroom, Limbaugh encouraging riots, Michael Savage calling for the execution of Madeleine Albright? Sadly, that's just a quick list of some of the violent acts called for by the right. It's really insidious and once you've become attuned to it, it's truly amazing how much it pervades the discussion on the right and does so for really one reason: to prevent thoughtful discourse and inject fear and the threat of violence (because we've seen only too well what happens when fear governs the electorate). As Thom Hartmann says on the jacket blurb:
Since 9/11, America has been contaminated by the violence of right-wing language, in the speeches of Republican politicians and the rantings of the talking heads on Fox News and on conservative talk radio. Jeffrey Feldman’s insightful and important book cuts through the violence, and shows how we can restore the democratic ideals that America was founded upon.
I know that reading Outright Barbarous has changed the way I've thought about framing the posts I do here. I don't want to contribute to the violent rhetoric and I think we've become so inured to it (War on Christmas, anyone?) that it was disconcerting to realize how easily you fall into using it. Jeffrey does offer some proposed solutions on how to bring the dialogue back to a more honest level and to lift the discourse away from the violent rhetoric of the Right.
So please welcome Jeffrey Feldman to Crooks and Liars, and let's discuss how re-frame the debate.