Bruno Diaz in 3:AM Magazine:
“I only know what I believe.” Tony Blair, Labour Party Conference Speech, 2004.
According to the likes of Faisal Islam, Ralph Keyes, and The New York Times we’ve entered the post-truth era. If they’re right, it’ll be a time when, like Tony Blair, we will eschew the achievements of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and base what we know not on what we prove through intellectual enquiry, but on what we believe as articles of faith. In this new world, as both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have shown, facts and experts will be pushed aside in favour of populism and emotion. Public opinion and government policy will be moulded by those whose words provoke the most hysteria. It’ll be a place where controversial opinion pieces, and the polemicists who write them, will be in great demand.
So with a cry of “The White House Here We Come!” these are some tips on how to get your opinions sounding like cast iron “facts” straight from the columns of Peter Hitchens, Owen Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos.
1. Be Perfectly Reasonable
Whatever or whoever you’re criticising, start out by saying that you think they’re great.
If it’s a person or an institution you’re targeting, follow Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s example in his critique of Guardian journalist Zoe Williams: “Williams is a great writer – original, clever and with a fine turn of phrase.”
If you’ve got a whole industry such as banks in your sights, take time to praise certain aspects of the financial sector, or to point out that you’re not talking about all banks, just a few bad apples. Whether or not you believe what you’re saying doesn’t matter – the point is to come across as someone filled with well-mannered common sense who would only be critical if it was absolutely necessary. Once the reader thinks of you in this way, it’ll seem perfectly reasonable, and believable, when you tar the Co-Op and Nationwide with the same brush as Bear Sterns, Lehmans and Deutsche.
As French playwright Jean Giraudoux put it: “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”