Politics of post-truth: Demagoguery

Front matter

  • Tomorrow we are meeting individually to talk about your revisions for Fact-checks #1-4 and my assessment of them: conference schedule.
  • Next week we are talking about the economics of post-truth; you should listen to a podcast and complete a holistic annotation for it (which we’ll talk about in class today)

Pulling passages from Roberts-Miller’s Democracy and Demagoguery (2017)

Yesterday we informally pulled important passages from Dana Cloud’s chapter and discussed what they meant, why they were important moments, and how they related to other parts of the chapter. Hopefully you added annotations to the margins as we discussed them. Today we are going to do a similar thing today, but this time get it down on the page through a different method of annotation.


1. To begin, open a new Google Doc or Word doc.

2. In this document, copy + paste a significant quote you marked from the Roberts-Miler reading. Explain what is happening at this point in the reading and why you think it is important.

3. Once you are ready, paste your contribution to this Google Doc so we can talk about them (do not draft your response in the Doc — paste it from another source).

Did our passages account for the answers to all or some of these important questions?

  • What is the short definition of demagoguery? What does this mean?
  • What is its criteria? What kinds of discourse does Roberts-Miller focus on? Which criteria are emphasized by the author?
  • What are some of the personality traits of those who subscribe to demagoguery?
  • What are some of the words or vocabulary Robert-Miller introduces as she explains how demagoguery works? Point us to some moments.
  • We can we find demagoguery in action? Where do we look and what do we look for?

Holistic annotation

For next class you’ll be listening to a podcast from The Daily and annotating it using a method I call holistic. By holistic, I mean your annotations won’t respond to the content directly on the page or margin (there isn’t one), but in a separate space — a GoogleDoc, Word file, or sheet of paper. Holistic annotations get you to think about the text more “globally”; that is, you are not so much highlighting individual words, sentences, or paragraphs, or jotting notes next to them, but instead considering the text as a whole. To do this you will need to listen or read the text and:

Summarize it. In a 100-word paragraph, cite the title and author and the central idea/question/argument, sub-claims, evidence used, as well as how the text was organized (Abbreviated example: In the chapters we read from Demagoguery and Democracy Patricia Roberts-Miller defines demagoguery as a kind of discourse… In her chapters she lists several kinds of criteria and characteristics of those who subscribe… )

Copy (or cut & paste) 4-5 money quotes. As you read should note “money” quotes — parts of the text that are especially rich, dense, defining, confusing, etc. (in a podcast it might help to note the time and go back to copy them later). If there are multiple voices, like there are in the podcast, it will be important to attribute these to a speaker. You might also explain — briefly in your own words — the quote’s context and/or why you found them important. It is also important to include page numbers or time markings so it’s easy to return to them later when you are drafting.

List some or all of the sources used in the text. These could be formal, scholarly citations or informal, anecdotal evidence (Polly said…). Copy or cut & paste the URL if the source is available digitally. Often I like to track the most important sources that are repeated throughout or are depended upon heavily by the author as they extend an idea. I call these MVPs (most valuable players).

Develop a list of keywords or tags. These are words or phrases that categorize the text. For example, for Roberts-Miller I might use the following: politics, truth, authority, identity, argumentation, deliberation, publics, polarization, realism, authenticity, confirmation bias, binaries, projection, fallacy, charisma, victimization, patriarchy.

Activity: Let’s practice this method with Roberts-Miller.

Homework for tomorrow

  • Post your revision to FC#4 to WP.

Homework for Monday

  • Listen to “The Business of Internet Outrage” (from Oct 2018 on the NY Times’ Daily podcast). Note that you can also follow along with the transcript here.
  • Complete a holistic annotation for the podcast in Google Docs.