The abuse of language in politics

  Plaque marking where George Orwell worked in the Hampstead section of London. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful,'' he wrote.

Plaque marking where George Orwell worked in the Hampstead section of London. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful,'' he wrote.

 

Politicians have succeeded in creating a mythical entity, “the media,” Llewellyn King, host of White House Chronicle, says in this week's episode of the television and radio program.

“We are not a monolithic whole but a disparate, irregular army,” King says of journalists. “To believe that we are somehow a single entity that reacts in unison to events is to know nothing about journalists and how they work, investigate and behave.”

In this week's episode, scheduled to air beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Rhode Island PBS, among other places,, King and co-host Linda Gasparello discuss the new words that are dominating political conversation.

The episode centers around a column King wrote for InsideSources, a newspaper syndicate, and published in newspapers across America, in which he deconstructs words and phrases that are subverting the political dialogue. Those include “takeaway,” “double down,” and “walk back.” He also includes those that demean journalists by calling their work “fake news” and them “enemies of the people.”

King and Gasparello, both lifelong journalists, are scathing on the episode about the use of language to obscure political incompetence and mendacity. For example, they conclude that a "walkback'' has become a synonym for a lie, a mistake, an insult, an unsupportable allegation and ignorance.

Fake news, according to the pair, is a case of attacking the messenger because the message is unpalatable. This is a tool used promiscuously by President Trump, alleges King. “He does not just attack reporters, he vilifies honorable organizations like The New York Times and CNN.”

Their discussion also wanders into the smokescreens of euphemisms that politicians use to describe war and killing, and whether Republicans or Democrats communicate more effectively. Gasparello weaves quotes from Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who railed against political language, into the episode. She reads what Orwell wrote, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind.”

White House Chronicle  is a weekly news and public affairs program, airing nationwide on 200 PBS, public, educational and government (PEG) stations, and the commercial AMG TV network; and worldwide on Voice of America television and radio. An audio version of the program airs four times weekends on SiriusXM Radio's P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), Channel 124.

For more information, contact Llewellyn King at (202) 441-2702, or llewellynking1@gmail.com.