Is Right Wrong? Is Wrong Right?

I’ve spent a great deal of my professional career utilizing a skill set where I am able to synthesize and process information and opinions from hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, and dispassionately distill the material takeaways to invested parties.  I’m even able to do that when I have a room full of a dozen or so qualitative research respondents, where the task is to seek out some sort of consistent narrative that emerges and put into context what may prove to be aberrant viewpoints.

But when it comes to trying to guess what may or not be motivating a particular individual’s behaviors, I’m a lot less successful, and more and more I learn that what I assume to be a given just is not true.  Take, for example, the concern I, and many others who have known Linda Yaccarino have expressed about her state of well-being, especially in light of the recent wave of incideniary statements and tacit agreements being evoked by her X boss.  It’s bubbled to the point where virtual interventions have been staged via the reporting in numerous online publications, such as the summary published by FUTURISM’s Noor Al-Sibai last week:

As Axios and Forbes have both reported, X CEO Linda Yaccarino’s colleagues from the advertising industry have been privately advising her to jump ship to save herself following Musk’s latest — and perhaps worst — bigoted outburst that saw him agreeing with Nazi talking points in line with the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that posits that Jews want to “replace” white people by killing them.

In an interview with Axios, marketing consultant Lou Paskalis, a friend of Yaccarino’s, said that he’d sent her a text telling her she should leave the social network “before her reputation is damaged” by Musk’s latest debacle.

“I think the advertising community is now working to save the reputation of a beloved member of our industry who does not share Elon Musk’s views and certainly did not know them when she accepted the role of CEO,” Paskalis continued. “If she did, she would not have accepted it.”

Yet not long after my recent musing that offered a similarly understanding viewpoint, another longtime friend and associate of Yaccarino’s, who I have a decades-long relationship with myself, privately messaged me that perhaps what’s being lost in translation is his experience that, in this person’s words, yac was totally aligned with her boss before he hired her. To the extremist right of Attila the Hun…At least yac has been true to herself.

Now I have no idea if my connection is closer to ger than Paskalis, but I know my connection knows her better than I do.  And amidst all of this tumult, the only response we’ve seen from Yac herself is a redoubling of efforts to get the job done that she’s being paid extremely well to do, as the memo to her team early last week which THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER published in full:

Team,

Across every corner of this company, we’re working to create a platform for everyone. And there is no other platform that’s working as hard to protect free speech like X. Our work is critical, but it’s not always easy. What we’re doing matters, which means it naturally invites criticism from those who do not share our beliefs.

While some advertisers may have temporarily paused investments because of a misleading and manipulated article, the data will tell the real story. Because for all of us who work at X, we’ve been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination, as there’s no place for it anywhere in the world.

I want to encourage you to read and listen to all the feedback. On one side, there’s a vocal minority trying to use deceptive attacks to undermine our work. But on the other side, there are vocal supporters and courageous partners who believe in X and the meaningful work you are all doing. Hold on to that and keep pushing forward. No critic will ever deter us from our mission to protect free speech.

And as FORBES’ Kylie Robison reported, she followed that up with an impassioned plea to, as the headline blared, ‘(b)y all means, put your heads together to bring new revenue into the company’.

Sure doesn’t sound like someone in need of an intervention.  Sounds like a sales leader who’s trying to make budget in spite of poor choices by upper management.  No different than trying to make good the underdeliveries of the five-night-a-week JAY LENO SHOW disaster that dragged down the 10 PM time slot and the ratings of the valuable local NBC affiliates’ late news franchises that followed them.

And the harsh fact is, there’s growing evidence all around the world that despite the insistences of what many of us who purport to be objective and champions of democracy are, an awful lot of others simply would beg to differ.

In Argentina, this handsome lout recently won election to the presidency, which, as BBC NEWS’ Pascal Fletcher reminds, waswith a much wider margin than anticipated.  As REUTERS’ Maximilian Heath detailed, Milei beat Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa by a wide margin, pulling in almost 56% of the ballot, some 14.5 million votes, as he rode a wave of anger at inflation soaring towards 150% and biting poverty.  Off platforms that include such postulates as the following:

Money: — Javier Milei had proposed to dollarise the economy and eliminate the Argentine Central Bank as a strategy to “kill” hyper-inflation. This meant making the US dollar the national currency in place of the Argentine peso, whose value, Mr Milei said, had been “melting like blocks of ice in the Sahara”.

Climate Change: “I do not deny climate change. What I am saying is that there is a temperature cycle in the history of the Earth… Therefore, all those policies that blame humans for climate change are false,” Mr Milei said during a presidential debate last month, causing much commentary and criticism.

Religion: Before he was elected, Mr Milei virulently attacked Argentine Pope Francis, calling him a “Jesuit who promotes communism”, and even the “representative of the evil one [the Devil] on Earth”.

And in the Netherlands, the same country that has redefined what a “coffeehouse” is, last week the man they call the “Dutch Trump” was their newly chosen leader. And as THE GUARDIAN’s Senay Boztas reported, there’s as much content with that as there is with a freshly rolled Sativa:

In a shopping centre in Volendam, a fishing port north of Amsterdam, on Friday, there was satisfaction about far-right politician Geert Wilders having dominated last Wednesday’s Dutch elections. “It’s a really good thing,” said Pieter, who didn’t want to give a last name. “There’s a shortage of houses, people are still coming. The borders have to shut.”

In pretty Volendam, long a Wilders stronghold, the Party for Freedom (PVV) won 18.6% of votes. The jaws of politicians, political scientists and Wilders himself dropped open when early forecasts suggested a win of 37 seats – around a quarter of parliament and his largest share ever.

This blond politician sometimes called “the Dutch Trump” and known for his inflammatory comments on Islam, a criminal record for insulting Dutch Moroccans and being refused entry to Britain, has shocked the nation.

And as for the issue that Yaccarino’s boss infuriated so many advertisers with?  Well, let’s just say there’s enough dissenting viewpoints even here that have found their way into American institutions, as TIME’s Shimmone Shah reported:

Protesters temporarily disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in what was the latest demonstration in opposition to the Israel-Hamas war.  Groups of protesters gathered both on the parade route and sidelines, holding banners and chanting. Floats and marching bands continued to move down 6th Avenue, veering around the protesters.  During the parade, as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s float moved along the route, one member unfurled and displayed the Palestinian flag. 

Yes. even Native Americans from Massachusetts have their own opinions, and were determined to share them with the world.

So, honestly, who among us has either the entitlement or the moral high ground to actually say with some sort of assurance beyond our own lens what is “right” and what is “wrong” about expressing an opinion?

The underlying assumption is that people are at least motivated enough to make up their own minds.  It’s easy to take the stand that someone who disagrees with how you see things MUST be wrong.  But if decades of focus groups and surveys have taught me anything at all, it’s that there aren’t definitive right and wrong answers.  And more than ever, that appears to be the norm everywhere.  Like it or not.

Another longtime friend of mine, who is spearheading a movement to deny FOX a renewal for one its stations’ FCC licenses due to the network’s role in spreading political misinformation spewed by Trump, has now turned his guns on those now running for office, most recently posting an image of the Apple TV+ movie THE PIANIST as a reaction to Wilders’ election.  His LinkedIn post urged that Biden must campaign not on roads/ bridges but against the hate that spews out of Trump.  I offered as my personal reaction support with qualifications. I summed it up thusly:

Polls here —and I know a good one when I see it—are clearly saying a plurality of Americans somehow are willing to be next. Polls aren’t necessarily predictors of the future, but they do show where we are. And we are at a tipping point. The Democratic Party can’t get this one wrong. It is time for the gloves to come off, the battle to more forceful and to drive home exactly what is at stake. This is not an election that will be won on issues. It is now a battle to keep a drunk man away from regaining the steering wheel.

I was delighted when this friend, who I respect immensely, replied: Spot on Steve! Please spread the warning any way you can.

This is about the extent that I can follow through with his request.  But I’m exceptionally dubious that it will make one whit of an impact.  Honestly, for the overwhelming majority of you, even my most loyal readers, has anything I’ve said actually changed your minds?  If I’m lucky, perhaps I got you to react.  Possibly even pause and think.  But change?  Seriously?

So if that’s the case, then why does any ad executive think he can move Linda Yaccarino back into what they see as “the light”?  Or the ability of an increasingly insular platform like X to actually move people toward behaviors they weren’t already long predisposed to?

And, at this point, can anyone truly expect the Democratic Party to find a way to prop up and amplify a defiant and politically shielded 81-year-old into someone who will be even close to the kind of fighter needed to shut up the likes of Fat Orange Jesus. or make an impact on those who will defend him to the death?

Maybe you don’t think how I feel is “right”.  Or maybe you think it’s too right.  You’re entitled to that opinion.

But it’s your opinion.  It’s not fact, and it certainly isn’t my truth.

So who are any of us to assume what the truths of someone like Yaccarino, or Javier Milei, or Pieter from Volendam, or a Mashpee Wampanoag Tribesperson are?

So you go right ahead, Linda.  Do your job you’re being paid so much to do.  Go find that lost revenue, under a rock if you have to.  There’s probably more than a few who have already bought out the entire gamut of what Mike Lindell and My Patriot Supply have to offer that will throw you some loose millions.

And I’m sorry if I assumed you had any interest whatsoever in being anything like me.

But maybe, just maybe, since your version of “right” seems to be working for you, you might be willing to throw me a bone?  Rent’s due soon, you know.  (FYI:  I’m not above anyone else clicking on that link at this point, either).

Until next time..

 

 

 

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