Last night, you may have heard that Rachel Maddow got hold of President Trump’s elusive tax returns. This was going to be a bombshell! They would reveal his Russian connections. They would reveal he wasn’t as rich as he claimed. They would reveal he paid no taxes.
What they actually revealed was that Rachel Maddow and MSNBC were fake news to the surprise of nobody. The President earned a lot of money and paid a lot of taxes, and another Russia hoax blew up in smoke. The cognitive dissonance was immediate and overwhelming, but my favorite showing came from the always-reliable Sally Kohn.
This return, in isolation, is nothingburger BUT serious kudos to @maddow for hyping story to refocus attention on unanswered questions!
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) March 15, 2017
For those of you not in cognitive dissonance, this is translated as: “I know what you did was a gigantic fuck-up, but maybe you’ll do something good in the future!!”
The Rachel Maddow tax dump is the endpoint of fake news. In its endless quest to create hysteria, it refutes itself.
But in the days leading up to the second biggest fake news bust of the year so far (the “golden showers” “dossier” still takes the blue ribbon), I began to think about more practical, everyday, systematized ways to defeat the fake news media and take power, particularly for up and coming personalities or politicians. The “Revolution of 2018,” where Trumpist Republican challengers attempt to kick incumbents out of Congress, is brewing. These steps to bypass the fake news media are going to become more important in order for the new breed to take power.
Put simply, to take power, you’re going to need to find ways to bypass the fake news if you aren’t in lockstep with the narrative. If you’re relying on the fake news in order to take power and influence, you’re in trouble. These maxims can apply to Donald Trump or even you, though the effectiveness of each one will often depend on your level of influence.
Step 1: Build your Own Platform
Cliche, I know, but this is the absolute foundation of how you can bypass the fake news media. The crucial springboard to Donald Trump’s campaign is that he had his own platforms going back 30 years. The Art of the Deal was world-famous. His social media following was already in the millions. True, The Apprentice on NBC was a massive springboard that got him national TV exposure for 10 years, but he wasn’t a dissident, at least publicly, until 2015. Safe to say, he wouldn’t have been given that platform if he had been. Nevertheless, he used all his platforms well. He didn’t need the fake news to promote his campaign. He could bypass the fake news media. He knew they would come to him because he was too big and notorious to ignore. It’s also why he spent so little on advertising.
Having your own platform allows you to control the news cycle with your actions because you aren’t dependent on the fake news media for attention. You have it already. You bypass them. They need you more than you need them. You take control of a power that is far more stable.
Fortunately, the infrastructure you need to start building your own platform to bypass the fake news media has never been easier to get. In Julius Caesar’s time, you needed something big like a prestigious military command. Now, you only need a website, a video channel, and social media accounts. You already have the opportunity to take power most others would’ve pined for.
Growing your platform is the real challenge, but starting it is the easy first step. Chapter 6 of Stumped covers in depth how Donald Trump grew his platform and personal brand in order to become a go-to, nationally trusted authority, and how you can do it too.
Step 2: Give Something Valuable
When Mike Cernovich came to town at the end of February, there were two other special stars with him – Gavin McInnes and the man who announced he’d be challenging Goofy Elizabeth Warren for her Senate seat, V.A. Shiva. Already he’s fighting hard, with a theme centered on the protagonist, a real Indian and innovator, versus the antagonist, a fake Indian and “fighter” who does nothing.
I suggested to him that when getting people to join his campaign’s email list, he shouldn’t release a 10 point policy paper that no one reads, but rather a free ebook that teaches something useful. He seemed to be well ahead of me on this, mentioning that he’d be releasing something on entrepreneurship and innovation.
Giving people something valuable not only gets their attention, it increases your influence over them. This is Cialdini’s principle of reciprocity. We all want to give back to those that give to us. It’s also the liking principle – we like and are influenced by those that give us something for nothing.
This also allows you to bypass the fake news’ message and take power, because your audience has crystallized a connection directly to you.
If your campaign releases a policy paper that somebody disagrees with, that’s the end of the hook. You’re very unlikely to change his mind. Give something of more practical value and people will like you, be more interested in what you have to say later, and will feel an obligation to give something back to you. You take more power. It builds a longer, stronger relationship that’s more resilient to media attacks, keeping your influence and audience more secure.
Anyone who wants to bypass the fake news and take power, especially in politics, should follow this crucial step.
Step 3: Create Constant Spectacle
You should be well aware of this law of power by now. Donald Trump used it to great effect during his campaign and is still doing so as president.
Most of us won’t be able to stage such grand spectacles, so we’ll have to think of more creative ways of doing them.
If you’re running for office, or you’re about to announce a big project, you should launch your effort at power with a spectacle that will define it and bypass the media spin. Use the primacy bias of memory to its greatest possible extent. For Trump it was that escalator ride (and his subsequent shocking announcement speech).
Then there are other, more mundane spectacles to use to take power and bypass the fake news media. For instance, Mike Cernovich talks of having a 24/7 live stream of his potential campaign and its doings, essentially turning it into a reality show on the internet. That would get constant attention. Cool trinkets, tokens, and images that people can share are also a part of the spectacle. Never forget the importance of team affiliation. Trump’s hats are the best example, and the use of this kind of spectacle, and how you can use it too, is covered at length in Stumped’s fifth chapter.
By doing this, you bypass the fake news and force them to pay attention to you, rather than beg them for their spin. You define your message, not them. You take power.
Step 4: Live Q&A
I don’t know why Donald Trump hasn’t used this to take more power. He kind of did it once or twice in the early days of his campaign. Using it to bypass the fake news at this point would be very good for him, especially if more leaks get out.
The fake news likes to say that it informs the people, so why not just bypass them entirely and let the people inform themselves? Instead of doing press conferences, do public conferences. At events, invite and call on members of the public to ask questions that they care about, rather than the questions the fake news thinks they care about. Also, do live YouTube or Periscope sessions at regular intervals where people can ask you questions directly.
Bypass the fake news’ frame of speaking for the people and they lose power.
If you think this is sinister, ask yourself how can a media apparatus that’s 90% owned by six corporations be considered a “free press?” The people are now the free press. Why is the middleman needed anymore? Technology has made the old media largely obsolete unless media personalities can find ways to stand out and make themselves interesting. For every Tucker Carlson there are 10 or more paper pushers that no one’s ever heard of or needs.
Step 5: Live Events
A subset of many other steps, your live events should be like Trump rallies – high energy, entertaining, fun, and informative. Your events should have the atmosphere of a rock concert, not a “town hall” or a lecture. Even at Trump’s more formal events and speeches, he found ways to make them fun. Fun is power. Being boring is losing the message.
You’ll need a certain amount of reach before you begin these kinds of events. Social proof will be a very important indicator here. If you don’t think you can draw good size crowds (relative to the kind of campaign you’re doing), it’s probably better to do more intimate public showings.
If you can get good audience sizes, the media will need to pay attention to you. You’ll have no need for the fake news to define your message. Again, you bypass them. You take power.
I posted a while ago that Donald Trump should be doing at least one campaign-style rally a month. It looks like he’ll be doing so. No fake news required to define his message.
The key to all of these steps is to define your own narrative and not let the media define it for you. Define yourself, bypass them, and you stay on offense, you take power. Let the media define you and you’re at their mercy – they take power from you. Louis XIV knew it. Caesar knew it. So does Trump.
You want to follow in their footsteps? You’ll take control of your own way forward after reading Stumped.