Here is a link to an amazing document written in the early 2000’s by Republican strategist Frank Luntz to help Republican politicians frame the debate about the War on Terror, the Iraq war, security and other related issues. This document helped communicate and sell to the public ideas that may not have been true. Without actually saying things that were false, they left people with the impression of false information. Members of the Republican party were amazingly effective at being on the same page as each other and really used a lot of the same language as laid out in this document.
How does language help us communicate? Is it unethical to mislead your audience without ever uttering something untruthful?
In 2011, the state of Illinois increased its state income tax rate from 3% to 5%. One could communicate this by saying that people will be paying 2% more of their incomes to state taxes which doesn’t sound all that bad since Illinois increased its rate rate 2%. Or you could say that Illinois increased its state income tax by 66% which sounds catastrophic and is also correct because you’re changing what the number actually is referring to. Increasing from 3 to 5 is an increase of 66% (or 66.6% to be more accurate with a bar over the last 6 but I don’t know how to do that on a keyboard). People would react to the news differently depending on how you communicate even though both could be considered correct.
Here are two different sites reporting the story. Notice how the choice of language and numbers changes the feel of each story even though they are both reporting the same news.
“The next day, the police released images of the attacker and asked the public for help identifying him. The New York Daily News ran the story in their typically sensationalist way. They described the man as a “brute” and a “thug” and described the incident in lurid detail and begged for readers to help ID the coward who attacked the woman and “ran away smiling.”
The problem? The man turned out to be an off-duty NYPD police officer and the New York Daily News, like almost every other media outlet in the country — liberal or conservative — has a completely different set of rules for covering police officers accused of committing a crime. By the next day, the story had been cleaned up.”
The US uses pain and force against terror prisoners, and argues it is all perfectly legal. Mark Tran explains