Opinion » Rhetoric & Reason

Let's go, Brandon!

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The new conservative meme "Let's Go, Brandon!" is notable for not only being an ostensibly inoffensive expression of contempt for an unpopular president, but also as the watershed moment when the media abandoned even the pretense of truth and objectivity in their reporting, and voluntarily outed themselves as political cheerleaders.

To those of you who don't know, the phrase "Let's Go, Brandon" originated on the TV broadcast of a stock car race when raucous fans began loudly chanting "F—- Joe Biden." An NBC television reporter covering the race found herself unable to ignore this background chant and went on the air reporting: "As you can hear the chants from the crowd, 'Let's Go Brandon,'" referencing the winning driver of the race, who she was interviewing. A meme was born in a lie.

Conservatives have embraced the meme, while liberals huff indignantly about an affront to the dignity of the presidency. T-shirts and hats with the phrase have appeared, and a Southwest Airlines pilot is in the hot seat for including the innocuous-sounding phrase during his inflight announcements.

This instinctive lie violated the first rule of effective deception: "Don't be too obvious." Shamelessly offering a lie that was instantly disprovable by the readily observable facts on hand became emblematic of the media's arrogance and casual disregard for the truth. In adopting the "Let's Go, Brandon!" meme, people are in effect replying to the media by saying: We realize that you're not even pretending to be truthful anymore. Most of us would place more confidence in a National Enquirer piece describing the scaly monopod extraterrestrial lovechild spawned by Elvis and Anwar Sadat in a vast Martian palace, than we would have in any sort of media reporting.

While media deception is certainly nothing new, what is new is the media's increasing lack of shame and embarrassment when caught in a lie. Previously, they would at least acknowledge "errors" and apologize, or print retractions or clarifications. On rare occasion, a reporter would even get defenestrated in a show of contrition.

As recently as 2004, the media felt obligated to display remorse when caught in a lie. Former media star Dan Rather was given the boot by CBS when he was caught offering forged documents to try and embarrass George W. Bush during the 2004 campaign.

The media campaign of deceit ramped up in the last few years, and it has cost them some money as well as credibility. CNN paid a big price by legal settlement for their hoax depicting MAGA schoolboy Nick Sandemann as purportedly taunting an elderly Native American at a demonstration, a lie that was revealed by merely looking at their entire video. Rolling Stone paid an even greater amount in 2017 for its 2014 fabricated tale of a supposed gang rape by fraternity members at the University of Virginia.

More recently, we have seen the industry repeatedly dissemble on COVID-19 and the pandemic to serve their agendas.

It is amusing that there are many people who mock the wacky QAnon followers and the crazy microchip theories of the anti-vaxxers yet who readily believe the partisan fantasies on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, etc. I'd hate to be the one who has to tell them that those tempting email offers from the Nigerian Minister of Finance are bogus.

The media industry has long bemoaned the decreasing trust and respect that they receive from the public. Much like the frequent campaigns of attorney organizations trying to raise the public image of lawyers, the media relentlessly lectures us on their "valuable contributions" as the courageous guardians of democracy and good government, etc. Listening to either campaign, most of us find it hard to not giggle at the audacity of their laughably transparent deflection.

Here is some advice: If you must lie to us, you should at least be polite enough to make your lies reasonably plausible. We find it insulting when your lies are so glaringly obvious that we can't avoid recognizing them. It reveals that you think so little of us that you are not willing to go to the trouble of crafting convincing deception. That is just disrespectful.

It shouldn't take that much effort on your part. People are generally willing to accept most anything that confirms what they already want to believe, but it needs to be at least superficially plausible. We expect so little from you as it is. Just some entertaining pictures and background noise to accompany our dinner, and if you could please refrain from such outlandish lies that we end up squirting our milk or pinot grigio out of our nose, we would appreciate it.

But, since you insist upon repeatedly insulting us with your flimsy, transparent lies, you'll have to expect a little pushback from us:

"Let's go, media!" Δ

John Donegan is a retired attorney in Pismo Beach who just makes this stuff up as he goes and is dazzled by the chutzpah of the true masters of the art in the national media. Send a response for publication to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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