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Sun Oct 20, 2019, 07:59 AM

How the media (and we, if we're not careful) get played.

I posted this in the thread "Boris Johnson sends unsigned request to Brussels for Brexit delay" on Latest Breaking News, but it might be of some interest.

Here are some interesting observations from Mike Hind about framing and PR in politics and how the headline in the OP plays into Johnson et al.'s hands.

It has some relevance to the situation with Trump in the USA, too.

(Note to moderators: it's a Thread Reader transcript of a Twitter thread, so I don't believe it's subject to the usual four-paragraph limit on quotes.)

Downing St wants you to kick off about him not signing the letter.

This is a perfect example of Lakoffian framing.

The fact is that an unelected Prime Minister has again been humiliated by an elected Parliament.

A short explainer...

To win the PR air war you need to be first, with a fresh message, no matter the setback you just suffered. That's how you manipulate the media. By giving them a new story, to distract from the bad story.
Vote Leave (which is basically now the government) has been very adept at this.

Remember when the Electoral Commission ruled that Vote Leave had broken electoral law? They instantly declared the EC as "politically biased".

The story then? VL accuses EC of political bias?

See?

That is what we call framing.

Today's story is now about Johnson's 'defiance', rather than his humiliating political failure.


In the age of social media, those adept at framing have millions of people to manipulate. Most of us aren't aware of much comms theory, so we are easily manipulated into amplifying these talking points.

I too have been momentarily tempted to post some snarky 'hot takes' on Johnson not signing the extension request & sending a contradictory note. But reality bites when you spot the framing.

Today's story, behind the framing flannel, is that Johnson preferred to die in a ditch than do the thing he has been forced to do.

As ever, well-meaning people will argue the toss on this. Because often the last people to spot skilled manipulation are the skillfully manipulated.

Anyway, this is how to react

David Allen Green
@davidallengreen

Nothing in the latest tactical idiocy to cause alarm

The Benn Act letter is sent, these other reported letters legally inconsequential

Seems clever, and will impress the easily impressed, but nothing to worry about


If you're inspired to better understand framing, a good follow to consider is @dirktherabbit who consistently shines a light on these tactics

Framing is what the best journalists cut through, to bring you the real story. Which is why @BethRigby is one of my go-to sources for insight, rather than gossip

Jenni Russell
@jennirsl

Journalists refusing to be spun by access to the No 10 machine are the ones to read in this latest Brexit crisis - the fearless @BethRigby here.

Beth Rigby ✔ @BethRigby

Unspun version
1) Govt asks for a Brexit extension as legally required by Benn Act
2) PM writes an additional letter saying why he believes a delay is a mistake and he will not negotiate one


I should also recommend @jennirsl, who is calling out the same problem

Jenni Russell
@jennirsl

This is just a stunt by Johnson aimed at his base - but @peston is acting as his megaphone by sending the message Johnson wants out there; that he’s defiant. The truth is: he isn’t. He complied with the law. Peston’s doing No 10’s job here rather than his own.

Robert Peston ✔ @Peston

.@BorisJohnson will tonight stick two fingers up at the Benn Act by sending the letter to @eucopresident it stipulates asking for a three-month Brexit delay but refusing to sign it. He expects to see MPs in court.


What actually happened



Robert Hutton
@RobDotHutton

Narrator: He asked for a Brexit extension.


If you'd like to journey into the deeper subtleties of framing this, by @zephoria, is a brilliant introduction.

“Media Manipulation, Strategic Amplification, and Responsible Journalism” by danah boyd link.medium.com/Y5OvWhqZV0

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1185797486708961280.html

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Reply How the media (and we, if we're not careful) get played. (Original post)
Denzil_DC Oct 2019 OP
muriel_volestrangler Oct 2019 #1
Denzil_DC Oct 2019 #3
FM123 Oct 2019 #2

Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Sun Oct 20, 2019, 08:06 AM

1. The important thing is that the EU takes it as a formal request for the 3 month extension

which, as far as I can tell, they are doing.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #1)

Sun Oct 20, 2019, 08:32 AM

3. Absolutely, muriel. No amount of PR can change that.

I think we've been pretty good on here during this latest episode at focusing on that fact.

But look at the headlines in the Sunday press, which is what most of the public will see, even if they don't buy and read the paper or listen in detail to the broadcast.

Nevertheless, the Scottish Court of Session is due to convene tomorrow, having lined up a hearing in advance in case Johnson tried to circumvent or not comply with its earlier ruling (even prepared, if the worst had come to the worst, to compel the sending of the extension request). I assume it will still convene to check in on matters and decide whether there's been a contravention of the Padfield principle: "a minister cannot send a side letter to the European Union saying that the UK does not really want an extension and asking EU to reject the application".

Johnson's signed letter that accompanied the extension request seems to have been reasonably carefully framed to skirt that principle without necessarily contravening it, but it's a fine call.

This was the initial reaction from Joanna Cherry (one of the prime movers in seeking judicial compulsion of compliance) before Tusk indicated he was going to act on the request:


Joanna Cherry QC MP
@joannaccherry

This is pathetic. NB @BorisJohnson promised #Scottish court he would comply with #BennAct & not seek to frustrate it. Looks like he’s breaking both promises. Fortunately no need to raise new proceedings our existing case is back in court on Monday #Brexit

Tim Shipman @ShippersUnbound

NEW: Boris’s three letters to circumvent the Benn act
1) a photocopy of the letter in the bill, unsigned
2) a covering note from Sir Tim Barrow which basically says “we’re sending you this because we have to”
3) a signed letter from Boris saying we don’t want an extension

And here's her latest reaction:


Joanna Cherry QC MP
@joannaccherry

This is correct. The political reality is that @BorisJohnson has capitulated & requested an extension of #Art50. The #BennAct & the sword of Damocles wielded by #Scottish Courts has worked. @eucopresident is taking it seriously. #SuperSaturday result!

Lewis Goodall
@lewis_goodall

Forget the spin and the other letters. The story of the night is that Boris Johnson has sent the letter and asked for an extension, after saying he never ever would.

I don't know whether this indicates that they aren't going to pursue this in the Court of Session.

I'm torn about what would be best. It could prove a pointless distraction, given that Tusk seems to be proceeding (and given everything else that's going on next week), and just shore up Johnson's PR game.

On the other hand, given the tenor of Johnson's signed accompanying letter and his continued insistence that he "won't negotiate"*, a shot across Johnson and Cummings's bows at this point might not be a bad thing, as there's lots of scope for back channel shenanigans to try to thwart the intent of the Benn Act.

This is a side issue from the OP's point, of course.


* Somebody asked on Twitter whether "won't negotiate" meant that if the EU said the UK could have a two-year extension, Johnson wouldn't try to negotiate that down!

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Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Sun Oct 20, 2019, 08:17 AM

2. Yep, you are right that it pertains to trump here in the U.S.A. too...

To win the PR air war you need to be first, with a fresh message, no matter the setback you just suffered. That's how you manipulate the media. By giving them a new story, to distract from the bad story.

In the age of social media, those adept at framing have millions of people to manipulate.

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