A Guide to Persuading Those Who Already Agree (Or, Why I Hate Reading the Opinion Section)

So you want to be a political pundit.

Before I teach you techniques, you must understand the job of a pundit.

Political pundits do not try to persuade. That is too much work. So don’t worry about winning over any [libs OR conservatives].

Your one job is to rile up your base. Life is much easier that way. And you’ll get a much bigger paycheck.

That’s why I’ve created the non-partisan guide to riling up your base like a pro.

Political Punditry 101: A 3-Step Guide

Step 1: Find the most outrageous [lib OR conservative] you can who has spoken about your topic. Quote them, and then say something like, “Can you believe the [libs OR conservatives] actually believe this?”

(Never mind that not all [libs OR conservatives] believe the same thing, and most of them aren’t saying anything as outrageous as the example you provided.)

Bonus tip: It helps to only read nontraditional media outlets on the [left OR right] that employ minimal editorial oversight. Stay away from [the New Yorker OR the National Review]. [1,2]

Step 2: Introduce a simple fact that is definitely true and supports your side, even if this fact is of secondary concern to the broader argument. Be sure to say that all of the [lib OR conservative] media is ignoring this fact. Even if the fact was widely reported across [lib OR conservative] outlets, your audience doesn’t consume [lib OR conservative] media, so they’ll just take your word for it.

For example, point out that the [Republican OR Democratic] presidential nominee has more experience in government than the [Democrat OR Republican]. Or that the [Democrat OR Republican] is supported by [George Soros OR Charles Koch].

(Never mind that you’ve never been persuaded to drop your support for a politician you liked just because you found out an unpopular rich person also supported them.)

Step 3: Point out how hypocritical the [libs OR conservatives] are by reminding your audience of an example where a [lib OR conservative] commentator complained about a [conservative OR progressive] politician doing whatever you described in Step 2.

This will help to distract from the reality that your fact from Step 2 may be of secondary importance.

For example, point out that a [lib OR conservative] commentator recently complained that some [Republican OR Democrat] received money from [Charles Koch OR George Soros]. Or that four years ago (back when your own candidate had less experience) the [libs OR conservatives] argued that more experience as a politician was a good thing.

(Never mind that you’re also being hypocritical since you didn’t care about experience in government four years ago, yet now you’re arguing it matters.)

Bonus tip: You can easily point out hypocrisy among [libs OR conservatives] even if individual commentators have maintained consistency. Remember, your audience will assume that one [lib OR conservative] commentator speaks for the views of ALL [libs OR conservatives]. So if you need to, just find one [lib OR conservative] commentator who said in 2013 that government shutdowns are the fault of [Congress OR the President], and find a different [lib OR conservative] commentator who blamed [the President OR Congress] in 2018.

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[1] Bonus bonus tip: Focus on the name of the media outlet rather than the name of the individual author. For example, say “A recent [Daily Kos OR Breitbart] article said…” rather than “Jane Doe said…” This will help to subtly lead your audience toward the conclusion that all [libs OR conservatives] believe whatever was said. Focusing on the media outlet will also remind your audience that they believe there is a grand conspiracy of [lib OR conservative] organizations hellbent on destroying everything good in America.

[2] Bonus bonus bonus tip: NEVER point out the distinction between the opinion section and the reporting section of a newspaper or TV station. You don’t want to draw attention to the fact that the [New York Times OR Wall Street Journal] has high journalistic standards even though their opinion section is run by a bunch of highly-partisan [libs OR conservatives].

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