Truth vs. Disinformation: How to Win
Consider this a strident, blunt, and perhaps painful call to
action to the people who can help save this country: The Communicators.
It’s not policy, photogenic faces, or experience that will
inspire voters to do what it takes to turn this country around. It’s
hard-hitting, visual, well-timed and continually hammered and repeated,
For too long, we’ve believed that somehow, “Truth Will Win Out”.
Well, eventually it will. However, disinformation and
falsehoods have a huge head start in influencing Americans; much damage has
been done, and will be done, unless communicators and leaders act now to start
winning the Disinformation Wars.
Here’s cause for alarm: after a baseless accusation was
leveled at a presidential candidate, his team decided not to respond. NO NO NO!
If we’ve learned anything, it’s that falsehoods repeated often enough, gain
credibility. A simple “no proof, no truth” to that accusation would be enough.
But to say nothing, just doesn’t work in today’s climate.
Here’s the three false beliefs purveyors of facts and
idealists dedicated to healing America must let go of.
- Truth is obvious. People will hear/see it
and believe. Well, no they won’t. The fact is that logic is overcome by
fears and emotions. Facts don’t persuade people. They may move the needle
further toward acquiescence, but only AFTER hearts have been won. And that
first step towards acceptance means appealing to emotions and beliefs, not
necessarily brains. And do people care about the details? Will they investigate
and then form an opinion? Probably not. They will buy into a big picture view.
They will trust someone who convinces them of their vision and that they can
follow through on that vision. But logical, fact-finding to form well-balanced
conclusions? Not in this era. Not for most people.
- Being dignified, polite and
following the rules will be recognized with success. Well, generations of women
in the workforce know THAT isn’t true. It’s not enough to be the good guys and
wait and expect that your worth will be recognized. Today, we need to go on the
attack. Those currently in power have mastered that practice. Fighting doesn’t
mean fighting “dirty.” It doesn’t mean abandoning ethics. It does mean stating
the truth, forcefully and bluntly, over and over and over again. It means
powerful slogans (based on truth), quotes, sound bites, memes and tweets.
Blunt, to the point, memorable – and truthful.
- The more often lies are
repeated and or exposed, the more they will be recognized as lies. Wake up – the opposite is
true. When a lie is first heard, it may sound outrageous. Then it gets
repeated. And maybe, refuted. Then it’s repeated and repeated and repeated. And
as the outrageous falsehood becomes more familiar, it sounds more and more
believable. Finally, the laughably unbelievable, unfounded accusation, becomes
accepted as fact. Remember the child porn ring a former political candidate was
allegedly running out of a pizza parlor in Washington D.C.? Millions still
believe that’s true, including the man who went there with a gun to free those
poor child sex slaves.
So do we resort to the same sordid tactics as the
disinformation warriors? Sell out our ethics and values? Of course not.
Instead, we learn from our defeats and change our tactics. If you are losing the
battle, change the playing field. We need to (wo)man up and take charge of the
message, become warriors for truth instead of apologists, running after the
debate and sputtering “but but but…”
Here’s what communicators and leaders need to do.
- Big lies can only be fought
by big truths, as one Presidential candidate said. Tell the facts, tell them
loud, tell them over and over again. And make a video about them – short,
pithy, go for the gut. For example, there’s plenty of criticism around the
government’s slow response to and denial of the threat of the coronavirus
epidemic. Do a study that will measure what the difference would be if the
government had acted promptly and taken immediate and smart actions. How many
deaths may have been avoided? How much damage to our economy could have been
avoided? Of those preventable deaths, what does that represent – the size of
Peoria, Illinois? Littleton, Colorado? Carmel, Indiana?
- Condemn liars from their own
example, create a visual in which we see someone telling a big lie or making a
promise, and then we see the truth. Example: “You’ll see my tax reports as soon
as this audit is over,” followed by the headlines of multiple lawsuits files to
hide the tax reports and the business documents. Example: “Whoever is in charge
is responsible for everything that happens,” then show the people now in charge
and what they are responsible for. Call people on their double standards –
- Combat each lie or accusation
with what really needs to happen. “what we really need not is leadership, not ……” “We must
always protect the right of Americans to report misdeed or illegal acts,
especially in government.” “Everyone must be accountable, no matter what office
- Get some attitude and some
humor. It’s ok to be snarky and sarcastic, just don’t be mean. People today
expect to be entertained. That’s the kind of communication that goes viral.
- Be a little bored with these
attacks and lies.
“Here we go again . . . . another outrageous claim with no facts to back it
up.” “It’s getting tiresome to hear these nonsensical exaggerations and no real
leadership or solutions. Here’s what we need . . . .” “With all the
disinformation out there, both in our country and what other nations are
putting out to destabilize us, why don’t we make a new rule: No statements
without supporting facts. Remember the days when people were accountable for
what they said? When lying was wrong? Let’s bring those values back. That’s the
way to make America great.”
- Don’t stay in your corner.
Conduct strategic skirmishes into enemy territory. That means appearances and
buying ads in media only frequented or “owned” by the other side. With
well-chosen arguments, points will be scored and doubts, sown.
- Tell stories. Yes, we know storytelling
has been a communications mantra for some time. Tell the stories of those
who’ve been hurt. Was the coal industry rescued and were coal miners helped in
the last four years? No. So how can they
be helped? Maybe education and jobs that are more lucrative, safer and
rewarding than living underground chipping away at rocks. Were Americans helped
by the sabotage of the ACA? Who got hurt? The week that 27 million Americans
lost their health insurance, how many lost their coverage in other countries?
No one. What really needs to happen to ensure that all Americans get good health
care? And how did our fragmented health care system put us at a disadvantage
for the pandemic? What was the fate of those without insurance, and without
jobs, if they got sick? Take photos. Put people on camera. Disseminate these
real stories in the same channels that have been so friendly to disinformation.
Enlist influencers, celebrities, and individuals to share.
- Enlist allies. Let others carry
the message. These
communication battles don’t have to be won by political candidates, who may be
somewhat constrained as to what they can do. Let their allies carry the
banners. Multiple billionaires have dedicated their funds and support to
turning the country around. They can lead the paid advertising campaigns.
Celebrities, media personalities
and entertainers have influence over billions. Now is not the time to worry
about your image – speak the truth. Forget about protecting your brand, protect
your country. Tell your fans and followings what you are doing and what you
believe needs to happen to heal America. Your voice counts! Even if you endorse
no one, talk about what is important to secure our future and encourage people
to get involved and do their part – VOTE.
Individuals and groups can and must
do their part. Adopt the mode of dress – whether it’s a t-shirt, a hat, a sign,
a meme, a video, a song – and make it omnipresent. The more others see
and hear the message, the more acceptable it will become to them. It’s
education from “people like me” via what you wear, what you share on social
media, what you talk about.
- Be visual. Imagine a drawing of an
individual who repeatedly lies, with the Pinocchio nose, and the lie underneath
this picture. Imagine that picture replicated a hundred times, each with a
- Create amazing
communications, tell, repeat, repeat, repeat and REPEAT. Have several ways to repeat
so you’re not boring, but don’t get off message. Remember that what we are doing
is not criticizing the opposition – we are comparing and contrasting what is,
with what should be that people can support.
- Stop apologizing! It makes leaders sound like
wimps. A promising politician has to resign because 30 years ago, his arm
dropped too low on a woman’s waist while posing for a photograph? Please.
Meanwhile leaders who buy off porn stars, brag on camera about groping women,
attack and violate women repeatedly, have no accountability at all. Instead,
they just rise higher and become more powerful. How about this for a
guideline: “The MeToo movement is incredibly important and is changing the way
in which women have been taken advantage of and degraded in our society. That
awareness needs to continue. If in the course of my life and career, I’ve made
any woman feel uncomfortable, it was absolutely unintentional. I am fully on
board with the goals of this movement and fully support it.”
Consider this the blueprint to “The Art of War,”
Communication-style, for 2020.
One more thought – what about healing America? Won’t this
create more divisiveness?
Healing can only occur when the people in charge WANT to
heal America. Until then, we are at war. Speaking truth, powerfully, is
paradoxically the way to start the healing.
Let it begin.
Interested in healing America? Order "Magenta Nation" today and get started.
Think people can’t change their beliefs? Read “Love or Loyalty” to see the power of forgiveness in healing relationships and our nation.
Wondering about how families can heal, even after death? Read “Love Eternal... One More Time” to be amused and enlightened.