Join Me for Truth Tuesday, Abortion-Rights Edition

Join Me for Truth Tuesday, Abortion-Rights Edition

Wendy Brandes

I'm part of a group of activists holding a weekly Truth Tuesdays protest at the Fox News building in New York City, in order to push back against Fox's constant lies. We're there every Tuesday at 9 a.m. and tomorrow we're focusing on abortion rights, due to the oppressive Texas legislation and Fox's Tucker Carlson nonsensical equating of pandemic mask-wearing with forced birth. If you're in New York City, I'd love to have you join us!

9 AM
1211 6TH AVE (47TH/48TH STS)

We're encouraging people outside of NYC to start their own protests at their local Fox affiliates, on whatever day and whatever time works for them. Our website is still a work in progress, but we do have some downloadable art for signs and fliers you can use right here. (Shout out to sponsoring activist group Rise and Resist for making these materials possible.) If you take a look at the flier about Tucker Carlson, you'll see an example of a "truth sandwich," which is an important technique to prevent the inadvertent promotion of disinformation by the people trying to fight it. The truth sandwich recipe comes from retired UC Berkeley professor of linguistics George Lakoff, an expert on strategic language and the framing of civic arguments:

  1. Start with the truth. The first frame gets the advantage.
  2. Indicate the lie. Avoid amplifying the specific language if possible.
  3. Return to the truth. Always repeat truths more than lies.

Here's how it works on our flier.

The media has always focused on the extreme, scary, and absurd, because that's what grabs people's attention. The "If it bleeds, it leads" priorities of print newspapers and television news was the original version of today's clickbait. That tendency became especially dangerous for our democracy as soon as the former guy started his presidential campaign in 2015. It was better for business for journalists to cover the outrageous statements of a shameless conman playing to the cameras than it was to cover policy. Former CBS chief Les Moonves put it bluntly:

Click to read the Hollywood Reporter story.

Honestly, the entire media environment created the monster, but Fox gets extra blame because it was designed to be a right-wing propaganda machine masquerading as a news organization. You don't have to take my word for it: Read the original memo.

Click to read the original memo that led to Fox News.

I've become extremely sensitive to the poor performance and biases of the news industry -- the industry I used to love! -- in covering everything from politics to pandemics to police murders of Black people. I can look or listen to any story and point out the bad framing. But I admit that avoiding the trap takes a lot of work, as I found out when I was working on the Truth Tuesdays fliers. It's definitely easier to be a stenographer and write down the exciting-sounding bullshit spewed by the liar of the day, and then debunk it. Too bad it's also easier for the reader or viewer to remember the lie you've headlined rather than the debunking! Hence the truth sandwich. Here's the one I did for Laura Ingraham's statements about the January insurrection:

  • One police officer died and more than 140 were injured when rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
  • Laura Ingraham denies the attack was terrorism. She blames the victims. She makes fun of injured and dead cops.
  • The truth: The Capitol riot was a violent attempt to stop the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power -- the dictionary definition of terrorism.

Not as thrilling as a direct quote of a Big Lie, but also not as poisonous. I recommend keeping the truth sandwich in mind when dealing with misguided, cultish people in real life too.

Anyway, if you can't join us tomorrow at Fox, check out my other action suggestions in my previous post, and for the Goddess's sake, CALL YOUR SENATOR. We urgently need more people standing up for reproductive rights, and lying down for them too.

Wearing my pink Planned Parenthood t-shirt at Saturday's Refuse Fascism die-in in Times Square. Photo by George De Castro Day.

Speaking of protests, it's Labor Day, which has become very detached from its origins in a 10,000-person strike in New York City in 1882. For some Labor-Day-appropriate reading, I recommend this story about the Battle of Blair Mountain, which took place 100 years ago. Thousands of coal miners in West Virginia rebelled against the terrible, dangerous conditions they worked in, and were fought by an army commanded by the county sheriff, who was paid by the coal companies. (Law enforcement in this country has always protected the property of the powerful.) The fighting was only stopped by the U.S. Army. After, the event was stripped from federal oral histories and left out of school history textbooks on the orders of the state officials who, like the sheriff's forces, were in the pocket of the coal companies. In case you've been wondering why current West Virginia senator Joe Manchin is willing to decimate voting rights by refusing to cooperate with his fellow Democrats -- well, he's just following in the footsteps of his greedy predecessors.

Coal mining strikes aren't a thing of the past. In fact, right now over a thousand miners are on strike against Warrior Met Coal in Alabama, and have been since April. I joined them for a day in July when they came to New York to rally outside asset manager BlackRock, the largest shareholder in Warrior Met Coal. Elsewhere, 1,000 Nabisco employees are on strike against 16-hour days with no overtime pay, and the company is fighting back by hiring scabs and cutting off health benefits. Capitalism is as indecent as ever. I suggest stepping away from the Oreos in solidarity.