Talking Points

There’s a lot going on in the world right now.  The US women’s soccer team won the FIFA World Cup.  What should have been a ticker-tape parade in New York City celebrating their victory turned into a political push lead by the Governor, Mayor and team captain for equal pay.  I’m very proud of our champions and believe they should make as much money as they can. What I don’t like is the generalization of terms like equal pay.  It’s a generic talking point that has no fact-based merit in the real world.

Earning power is very simply defined as one’s ability to command a salary for a service provided commensurate with their experience and ability to generate revenue.  When used in comparison for money received by sports teams and players, how much the players earn is based on their level of excellence in the sport they play, the total revenue produced by the team, and how much money their agent can negotiate for the player to receive from those earnings.  In other words, the captain or most valuable player should be making more than the other players on the team.

In Megan Rapinoe’s case, her being the co-captain of the team and recipient of the Golden Boot and Golden Ball for being a leading scorer would mean she should be entitled to receive a bonus for her playing on the field.  That additional money is deserved because she helped lead her team to victory which results in national pride and a ton of free press and publicity for herself, her teammates and the sport she loves.  What it will undoubtedly also lead to are endorsement deals for her and some of the other players which will make them more money and rightfully so. The players on her team and others that do not become household names will not be so fortunate in their ability to generate revenue from advertising sponsors and merchandise sales bearing their name and player number.

While people like Rapinoe and Colin Kaepernick love to fancy themselves as social justice warriors they have no problem cashing in on their celebrity and making millions of dollars while in the process.  We live in a free-market society, not a socialist or communist state.  Talking points like equal pay sound great in theory but lead to subpar and minimal earning ability in countries where it is implemented like Cuba, Venezuela, and China.  Those same countries also crush dissident voices that speak negatively about the rulers in charge and often time’s jail them for their opposing beliefs and perceived lack of loyalty for the people in power.  The beauty of our country and free-market policies is that everyone has the right to speak their mind without fear of being imprisoned and make as much money as they can while doing it.

A true test of those in the spotlight who espouse the mantra of equal pay is whether or not they will divide their earnings equally amongst all of their teammates and competitors. That also goes for the donations received by politicians on the campaign trail as well.  If de Blasio and all the other liberal candidates running for office truly believe in equal pay they will put all of their combined earnings in one account and divide it equally amongst all of the candidates running. That’s called putting your money where your mouth is and walking the walk instead of using slogans to talk the talk.

In my book The War For The Middle, I discussed the topic of talking points and made it the first section in the chapter about the Fourth Estate.  It’s number one because it’s the most widely used tool by political parties. Talking points allow them to control the narrative of the day with a unified message that appears to be independent thought, but is really orchestrated from the parties’ leadership. I’m including it in this post to give you the tools to notice talking points when you hear them and see how they are used to help shape public opinion.  After you read it you will undoubtedly begin to question the things you hear and see on TV and realize that a story is being told.  With that being said I hope you enjoy the section.

Sometimes I wake up early on a Sunday morning.  After I have my breakfast and coffee I like to flip the lower channels on the dial and watch the political shows.  I don’t do it often because it’s too early in the morning for me to hear people going back and forth arguing about the politics of the week.  Sundays are meant to be a nice relaxing day.  It’s strange to me that the stations pick that day and time of morning to have the same lineup but they do.  It’s been like that for as long as I can remember so, I guess it works for their ratings.

As I watch the shows I see some familiar faces on the panels alongside the host.  Some people I have never seen before but, they all are well-spoken and represent different areas of the media, academia, politics, etc. Sometimes you will see some politicians or former politicians on the panel.  Current politicians use these platforms to help give them name recognition. It’s free airtime for them and gives them the chance to promote themselves, their party and their positions. The former politicians that are regulars on the same channel are given the title of contributors.  This simply means they are under contract with that station to give their opinion alongside other guests at different times of the day. It’s a very lucrative line of work and usually one of the first career choices made after they leave office.

When you watch these shows you will notice something happen that might strike you as strange.  Other than the hosts covering the same news events of the week and what’s to come you will hear almost identical phrases being said by people on different channels.  The guests will literally reference the same topic or phrase that another panelist is saying on a different show.  Some might call it a coincidence or great minds thinking alike. I want you to remember this if you only take away one thing from this chapter. In politics, there are no coincidences; especially on Sunday morning political shows.

What you are hearing and seeing are talking points.  If you are not familiar with that term you are going to have an aha moment after you see it first hand.  Let me give you an example.

Immigration is a hot topic and is often debated on especially when there is a renewed push to have our current laws reformed.  In 2018 Virginia Representative Bob Goodlatte (R) who at the time was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee drafted a piece of legislation.  H.R.6136 – Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 was introduced in the House on June 19, 2018.  The bill was a second attempt at immigration reform in one year by the Congressman.  Earlier that year he introduced H.R. 4760 – Securing America’s Future Act of 2018.

Without getting into the details (feel free to research them if you like) both pieces of legislation were shot down.  What I noticed though when I was watching two of those shows one Sunday morning was that the Goodlatte bill was mentioned by one of the panelists on both shows.  This struck me as odd because it was almost like they inserted the bill into the conversation when no one else was talking about it.  In fact, I remember both of the panelists saying identically “you have to check out the Goodlatte bill.”

When you hear the same phrases being repeated verbatim those are talking points.  This goes for every topic.  When you hear people citing the same ‘facts’ that are not really facts, just the results of a study or survey, those are talking points.  It’s meant to push an agenda.  Think of it like marching orders being given from the top. In the world of politics and media, the people in charge of the parties are the Generals and the pundits who appear on TV spouting the same lines are the soldiers.  Their uniforms and dress code are professional attire and their method of attack is cerebral.  By speaking in unison across multiple platforms they covertly promote their parties positions all under the guise of independent thought and free speech.

This is the dirty secret of politics that is frequently admitted to by hosts and moderators. Sometimes they will chastise their guests by acknowledging they are being told talking points.  This occurs when they are not getting a direct response to a question and are looking for a straightforward answer.  This obviously depends on if the host is interested in challenging what is being said or is complicit in following the narrative.

It’s ultimately up to you the viewer to decide what rings true.  If this sounds a lot like collusion give yourself credit. There are no coincidences in politics. If you hear the same phrases it’s not by chance.  When it comes to talking points and the media, a quote from the great Yogi Berra sums it up best: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

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