Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Thing About Narrative

At some point yesterday (Tuesday)....President Obama made some personal comments and decided to lay out one of his observations.  He noted that Fox News was spreading negative sterotypes about the poor in America.

The quote:  "I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving got traction. And look, it’s still being propagated. I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu — they will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. They’re all like, ‘I don’t want to work. I just want a free Obamaphone,’ or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative that gets worked up and very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress, which is much more typical, who’s raising a couple of kids and doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills."

The problem with this statement is the word "narrative".

The public over the past decade has gotten use to narrative.

Your son knows the narrative when he brings up an allowance upgrade, and you start talking about responsibility and work ethic.

Your buddies at the office know the narrative of the boss when he's talking bad numbers, crisis period, and layoffs coming up.

When the cops need to explain why they shot some old lady's know the narrative that will be used to explain the perceived threat to the cop.

When some state legislative cops start talking about closing state parks because of tax revenue know the narrative.

When some Secretary of State tries to explain why some ambassador just accidentally died in know the narrative.

When some black guy is thrown in the back of some police van and arrives at the destination with a broke the cops try to explain things....all you think of is narrative.

When the female principal was caught in a parked car out front of the school with some high school senior and the cops smile marijuana and notice that four buttons on the gal's blouse are listen to the explanation and all you think of is.....narrative.

When your state football coach wraps up the season with a 5-7 record, and explains that he just didn't have the right listen and all you think narrative.

Narrative is now a skill.  The guys at the Washington Post, NY Times, Time and Newsweak all know narrative. The folks at MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, and Fox News know narrative.  The folks who do the behind the scenes preparation for the morning religious chat shows know narrative.....talking in Moses, IRS, Adam and Eve, immigration control, Satan, and unemployment.

Poor people know narrative.  Rich people know narrative.  Liberals and Conservatives both know narrative.  Cowboys and Indians know narrative.  Farmers know narrative.  And even failed and confused NCAA football coaches know narrative.

As for the President's wisdom in pointing some finger at Fox News over narrative?  He seems awful worried over Fox it's some root-canal or hornet's nest sitting over the backdoor of the house.  For one single news source.....if you pause and look over comments from the White House.....Fox News gets mentioned at least five or six times a year.  NPR or Newsweak?  They never get mentioned.....almost like they don't exist in the mind of the White House.

The poor getting noted by Fox News?  I'm not that sure that they get mentioned much.  Maybe there is some stupid program which does little to help the poor.....which gets mentioned.  Maybe some revenue hand-out gets zero respect because it's not working.  People say things and they get noted.

I suspect most Americans would like to have a President who only gets noticed once a week.....never appears on some comedy show.....and is rarely quoted by the NY Times.  But trying to find such a mythical character is practically impossible.  That's my humble and honest......narrative.

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