Monday, January 14, 2008

The Secret Is The Question

The more I watch the news, the more incensed I become. It’s not the incessant blather about Brittany or the rock star status of Obama that troubles me, this is to be expected in a country that values entertainment more than knowledge. No, what is more frightening to me is how the debate in America is being framed by those who would have us stay ignorant of the facts and the real issues that we face as a nation. The way this is being done is nothing short of brilliant by the purveyors of dribble. The way you control the debate is not by being in command of the facts or even by being right. No, the way you control the debate is in the questions you ask. You control the answers by the questions you ask the interviewee. What troubles me is how so many of the “newsmakers” whether they are captains of industry, politicians, or sports and entertainment figures all play the game.

An example would be the infamous do you support the troops question or the why do you cheat on your wife. Both questions presuppose a given fact that has not been previously agreed to by the person answering the question, but by answering the loaded question you immediately agree with the premise. In other words if I say yes I support the troops, I am actually also saying yes I support the mission they are on and with the wife question I am saying yes I in fact do cheat on my wife. For an example of this technique in action, here is an interview between Wolf Blitzer of CNN and Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

BLITZER: The surge in Iraq, as it's called, General Petraeus' strategy, at least as far as U.S. casualties, Iraqi civilian casualties are concerned, seems to be paying off, seems to be working. Albeit the political progress is not where it should be with the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Are you prepared to concede, though, that if -- if the U.S. had done what you wanted six months ago or a year ago, simply start pulling out, there would have been no prospects of any sort of political resolutions, any political stability in Iraq?[1]

Notice how by the phrasing of the question Mr. Blitzer is trying to get the Governor to concede to facts that are not in evidence; that the surge is working. This is a common ploy by the corporate media to limit the debate to topics and issues they want discussed and to insert information they want disseminated instead of the real issues that need discussing. Many times the person being interviewed falls into this ploy, my question is do they do it out of ignorance or are they in concert with the person conducting the interview?

The following is how the Governor responded to the question and it is one of the reasons I have always liked and respected Governor Richardson.

RICHARDSON: There is no military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. This policy is flawed. It's not working.

Has there been any progress in political reconciliation in Iraq? No.
Has there been any progress in distributing oil revenues equally? No.

Have there been any regional elections? No.

Is the Iraqi government moving toward training their own people more effectively? No.

This is a quagmire.

Governor Richardson refused to concede the embedded point that Wolf Blitzer is trying to make, by not doing so he is able to expose the fallacy in the position of Wolf Blitzer. Now to reinforce his point the Governor should have posed the question to Wolf Blitzer, what constitutes success? Until these types of questions are asked the media will continue to portray the “surge” as being a success and as a reason to continue the current Iraq policy. The goal is not to get us to sign off on the “100 year war”, the goal is to get us to continue to sign off year by year, until before you know it we’ve been there for 50 years. The way they hope to do it is the same way they have done for all of our other occupations, stabilization and pacifism. These blossoming democracies need our support.

It is time we as an informed public begin to expose these tricks for what they are and begin to ask the real questions of our politicians and our leaders. We are currently in an election cycle and now is the time to ask the questions that the corporate media are not asking. We must begin to hold the candidates feet to the fire and stop relying on promises and dreams. There are so many questions that are going unanswered because no one is asking them. Let’s start asking.


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