How Newt Gingrich used these techniques

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How Newt Gingrich used these techniques


This example occurred more than ten years ago, but it is one of the most striking applications of propaganda techniques in recent memory. A popular Republican politician on his way to the top, Newt Gingrich clearly understood the power of propaganda. His political action committee (GOPAC) mailed a pamphlet entitled Language, A Key Mechanism of Control to Republicans across the country. The booklet offered rhetorical advice to Republican candidates who wanted to "speak like Newt." It was subsequently awarded a Doublespeak Award by the National Conference of Teachers of English in 1990.

The booklet contained two lists of words. GOP candidates were instructed to use one set of "positive, governing words," (glittering generalities) when speaking about themselves. A second set of negative words (name-calling words) were to be used against their opponents.

A brief glance at the words on Gingrich's lists suggests that they continue to be powerful tools in American political discourse. Words such as "vision, courage, lead, learn, commitment, empower, and freedom" are common to politicians on all sides of the political spectrum. Call-in radio hosts regularly use words like "ideological, liberal, bureaucracy, crisis, endanger, and lie" to discredit certain ideas.